Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
Commonwealth member state
Criminal Code 1974, S. 210 Unnatural Offences

Section 210 criminalises sexual penetration “against the order of nature”, with a penalty of up to fourteen years imprisonment. Attempts to commit this offence are subject to a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment. Only such acts between men are criminalised by this law.1

Criminal Code 1974, S. 212 Indecent Practices Between Males

Section 212 prohibits acts of “gross indecency” between men, or the procurement or attempted procurement thereof, with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.2



The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Papua New Guinea indicated that there have been no reports of prosecutions of LGBT people in recent years.

Statements by Public Figures


In an October press conference covering the month long synod of bishops which debated issues facing young Catholics, including how the Church should welcome gays, Papua New Guinea Cardinal John Ribat said: “The youth are talking about it freely and in the language they use, and they are encouraging us ‘Call us, address us this because this is who we are’”.


In April, a Papua New Guinea MP and Minister, Malaki Tabar, called for recognition of gay rights within the country. Tabar was quoted as saying: “They have the right to be accepted into the society and be productive in their participation within the societies they live in.”


Prime Minister Peter O’Neill stated in September: “There’s very strong feelings about [homosexuality] within the country and I think Papua New Guinea is yet to accept such sexual openness.”

There’s very strong feelings about [homosexuality] within the country and I think Papua New Guinea is yet to accept such sexual openness.

Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister

In July, former opposition leader, Dame Carol Kidu, called upon the Government of Papua New Guinea to decriminalise homosexuality. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, which runs HIV support services, has offered qualified support for Dame Carol Kidu’s stance. Speaking with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat programme, the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Father Victor Roach, stated that he cannot support her outright, but he explained: “If [a homosexuality allegation] is brought to the court and it has to be tried, I think the church is against it [the trial].”

Church leaders have strongly resisted any attempt to decriminalise homosexuality. Mendi MP and Southern Highlands Deputy Governor, Pastor Isaac Joseph, in response to a submission before the National Executive Council to legalise prostitution and homosexuality, said: “the Bill will contribute to moral decay in the very fabric of a nation of Christians. I challenge the [former] Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu to have a closer look, a morally closer look at this Bill. It is morally wrong even to think it up and to make it law is unthinkable. Such laws will cause social unrest.” He called on all civil society groups, churches, Christians, unions and NGOs to stand up and vigorously oppose the bill. He commented that the proposed law to legalise prostitution and homosexuality was to validate HIV/AIDS: “We have to ensure homosexuality is illegal.” He also proposed that public consultation be carried out before introducing and passing laws which would have wider social and cultural implications.

Persecution and Discrimination


The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Papua New Guinea stated that there were unconfirmed reports of societal violence and discrimination against LGBT persons, and they were vulnerable to societal stigmatisation, which may have led to underreporting.


In November, it was reported that homosexual male asylum seekers arriving in Australia were being sent to be detained and processed at detention centres on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, despite the criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct in that country. It has been reported that gay asylum seekers in the detention centres have been regularly sexually harassed and assaulted, but they fear going to the police because homosexual sexual conduct is illegal in Papua New Guinea and have been told by camp authorities that they will be jailed.

In October, a documentary that tells the story of Hanuabada village, a haven for gay and transgender people living in Papua New Guinea, was released in the hope of changing attitudes about homosexuality. In other areas of Papua New Guinea, such as in Port Moresby, gay men are reportedly often targeted by local men, particularly those who hail from the highland provinces, and have been raped, beaten and even murdered.

Legislative News


In its second UPR cycle, Papua New Guinea noted the recommendations that it received concerning the decriminalisation of consent same-sex relations between adults and to protect and not discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.


In July, Health Minister Michael Malabag committed to introducing legislation to decriminalise sex work as a key reform to tackling HIV/AIDS in the country. At the UNAIDS-AFPPD forum at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Minister Malabag stated: “I will bring in the legislation. We must remove the stigma. We are all equal.”


During its first UPR cycle, Papua New Guinea rejected recommendations to decriminalise sexual relations between consenting adults of the same-sex, but stated that: “There is ongoing national consultation on this issue and as such no definite answer can be provided at this stage.” According to a statement given by one MP, plans to decriminalise prostitution and allow same-sex marriage have “been shelved between the Government.”

1. Criminal Code 1974, S. 210 Unnatural Offences

“(1) A person who–

(a) sexually penetrates any person against the order of nature; or

(b) sexually penetrates an animal; or

(c) permits a male person to sexually penetrates him or her against the order of nature,

is guilty of a crime.

Penalty: Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

(2) A person who attempts to commit an offence against Subsection (1) is guilty of a crime.

Penalty: imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.” Full text.

2. Criminal Code 1974, S. 212 Indecent Practices Between Males

“(1) A male person who, whether in public or private–

(a) commits an act of gross indecency with another male person; or

(b) procures another male person to commit an act of gross indecency with him; or

(c) attempts to procure the commission of any such act by a male person with himself or with another male person,

is guilty of a misdemeanour.

Penalty: Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.” Full text.

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