Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Criminal Code 1974, which criminalises acts of ‘sexual penetration against the order of nature’ and ‘gross indecency’. These provisions carry a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment. Only men are criminalised under this law.

The law was inherited from Australia during the colonial period, in which the Australian criminal law, itself based upon the Queensland Criminal Code drafted during British colonisation, was imposed upon Papua New Guinea. Although the Australian states began a two-decade process of decriminalisation in 1975, Papua New Guinea gained its independence that same year and so retained the provision and continues to criminalise same-sex sexual activity today.

There is limited evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with the only known prosecution occurring in 2015 in which a man was found guilty under section 212. There have been some reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years, including murder, assault, harassment, and extortion, though social stigma likely results in underreporting of incidents.

Sexual Offence Law Assessment

We’ve also assessed Papua New Guinea’s sexual offence laws against international human rights standards. Not only does Papua New Guinea criminalise same-sex sexual activity, it also fails to properly protect other vulnerable groups, such as women and children, from sexual offences.

Find out more


The Australian NGO, Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation, reported that there had been no known prosecutions since 2015 (see below)


The US Department of State report found that there were no reports of prosecutions against LGBT people during the year. The same results had been found in recent iterations of this report.


Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation reported that in 2015 a man was convicted for ‘indecent acts between males’ and given a two year suspended sentence. This was the only known prosecution since at least 2011.

It’s time to decriminalise homosexuality… To me the issue is about adult consenting sexual behaviour in private.

Dame Carol Kidu, former Leader of the Opposition, 2012
Discrimination and Violence


Human Rights Watch’s world report stated that the criminalising provisions are sometimes used by police to extort money from LGBT people.


The US Department of State report stated that there were reports of societal violence against LGBT people, which police were disinclined to investigate, as well as discrimination. The vulnerability of the community is said to be underreported due to societal stigma.


In October, a gay man was killed by a relative in his family home, allegedly due to his sexual orientation. The police responded to the incident, but the investigation stalled.


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 LGBT people. 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.

In November, it was reported that gay 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 the country at the time. It was further reported that gay asylum seekers in the detention centres were regularly sexually harassed and assaulted, but they fear going to the police because same-sex sexual conduct is illegal in Papua New Guinea, and have been told by camp authorities that they will be jailed.


Local Organisations

Kapul Champions

an organisation supporting the local gay and transgender population.

Related Countries


Two provinces of Indonesia criminalise same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. The gender expression of trans people is criminalised under the federal law. Sentences include a maximum penalty of eight years’ imprisonment and 100 lashes.

Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment.


Tuvalu criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment.

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