Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Commonwealth member state
Penal Code 1996, Section 160 Unnatural Offences

Section 160 criminalises buggery, with a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment.1

Penal Code 1996, Section 161 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences and Indecent Assaults

Section 161 criminalises attempts to commit the offences outlined in Section 160 or any indecent assaults upon a man, with a penalty of seven years imprisonment.2

Penal Code 1996, Section 162 Indecent Practices Between Persons of the Same Sex

Section 162 prohibits acts of “gross indecency” with a person of the same sex, or the procurement or the attempted procurement thereof, with a penalty of five years imprisonment. Such acts between men and between women are criminalised.3

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report on the Solomon Islands has indicated that there are no recent reports of arrests or prosecutions under the law and the authorities do not generally enforce these provisions.

Statements by Public Figures

2018

Governor General Sir Frank Kabui said, during the Queen’s birthday celebration in Honiara in June: “Solomon Islands, the question for us is whether or not we will continue to maintain our current position or instead change our position and be like others, the issue of same sex marriage is coming and we ought to prepare ourselves to deal with it. Let me make it clear, that being gay or homosexual is not the issue, people of this description is everywhere in our societies, it is as old as humanity itself. It is not wrong to born with gay or lesbian inclination, it is said to be biological and is beyond individual control. Be that as it may, there is however a choice either practicing it or not with another person of same sex is a matter of choice, practicing it in private or openly when universal acceptance is therefore the issue today.”

Kabui further remarked: “Some countries are resisting including Solomon Islands, there is now a move in some countries to introduce gay and lesbian rights, in schools by teaching young people to recognise and appreciate the rights of this minority groups in society. We have to be mindful of this silent strategies creeping into our societies under the cover of legitimate activities. As I have said, this people are rich and are funding their agenda throughout the world wanting to change the world, they are destroying the family unit in societies; they are turning it upside down. Our challenge is to continue to remain steadfast against this onslaught, the international gay and lesbian advocates are steadfastly chipping at the edges with the hope that they change the world and accept same sex marriage.”

They are destroying the family unit in societies; they are turning it upside down. Our challenge is to continue to remain steadfast against this onslaught.

Sir Frank Kabui, Solomon Islands Governor General

Persecution and Discrimination

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report states that: “There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although stigma may hinder some from reporting.”

2016

A report by Equal Rights Trust noted that it is difficult to gather evidence about discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation as criminalisation and social stigma make it difficult for LGB people to be open about their sexual orientation. The report included a section on discrimination and inequality on the basis of sexual orientation and anecdotal evidence from three gay men on the abuse and discrimination they have faced. One testimony described harassment from police and verbal, physical and sexual abuse in public places.

2014

The National Council of Women and Women’s Rights Action Movement submitted a shadow report for the review of the Solomon Islands by the CEDAW Committee in 2014. The report listed how the government’s failure to recognise people’s sexual orientation and gender identity limited women’s enjoyment of human rights, including a: “lack of safe and accessible sexual and reproductive health services; lack of services to prevent and/or treat STIs and HIV; lack of comprehensive sexuality education and lack of legal recognition of same sex relationships.”

Legislative News

2016

During its second UPR cycle, the Solomon Islands noted the recommendations of the Working Group to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations.

2015

In March, the Solomon Islands voted in favour of a failed Russian proposal at the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) that would have overturned the UN Secretary-General’s decision to extend spousal benefits to UN staff in same-sex marriages.

2013

The Solomon Islands’ Law Reform Commission was provided with terms of references to review the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, with a view to considering areas such as violence against women and sexual offences, among other things. In June 2013, the Law Reform Commission issued its interim report on its review of part XVI of the Penal Code, which set out a number of recommendations for reform of sexual offences. While the report did not address directly the issue of the criminalisation of same-sex sexual conduct, the Commission did make two relevant recommendations. The first advocated for defining “sexual intercourse” to include oral and anal sex and redefining rape so that it applied to all, thus by implication seeming to permit sexual contact between those of the same-sex if consented to. However, no recommendations were included to repeal sections 160 to 162. The second relevant recommendation suggested that the offence of indecent assault be replaced and that “indecent” be defined “as meaning indecent according to the standards of ordinary or right minded people, or prevailing community standards. To determine whether conduct is offensive all of the circumstances surrounding the conduct can be considered, including the motive of the accused.” As a consequence, this may alter the application and interpretation of the offence of gross indecency under section 162.

2011

In its first UPR cycle, recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations did not enjoy the support of the Solomon Islands. The Government acknowledged and recognised international human rights standards, but explained that “it would be too early, within the context of the Solomon Islands, to discuss decriminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. Such an issue would require thorough national consultations to address Christian doctrines and cultural perspectives on the issue.”

2008

The Solomon Islands law reform commission suggested decriminalisation. This suggestion was rejected in light of considerable opposition.

Footnotes
1. Penal Code 1996, Section 160 Unnatural Offences

“Any person who-

(a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or

(b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her,

shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.” Full text.

2. Penal Code 1996, Section 161 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences

“Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in the last preceding section, or who is guilty of any and assault with intent to commit the same, or any indecent assault upon any male person shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for seven years.” Full text.

3. Penal Code 1996, Section 162 Indecent Practices Between Persons of the Same Sex

“Any person who, whether in public or private –

(a) commits any act of gross indecency with another of the same sex;

(b) procures another of the same sex to commit any act of gross indecency; or

(c) attempts to procure the commission of any act of gross indecency by persons of the same sex,

shall be guilty of a felony and be liable to imprisonment for five years.” Full text.

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