Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
Commonwealth member state
Laws of Tonga, Chapter 18, Criminal Offences Act, S. 136 Sodomy and Beastiality

Section 136 criminalises sodomy with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment. While this provision is termed in gender neutral language, only male homosexuality seems to be generally acknowledged in Tonga.1

Laws of Tonga, Chapter 18, Criminal Offences Act, S. 139 Attempted Sodomy, Indecent Assault Upon a Male

Section 139 criminalises attempts to commit the”abominable crime of sodomy” with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.2

Enforcement

2017

Recent US Department of State Human Rights Reports for Tonga have stated that there are no recent reports of prosecutions under the provision for consensual sexual conduct between adults, regardless of the gender of the parties.

2013

Tonga stated in its second UPR cycle: “Tonga however wishes to record that it has not yet prosecuted any same sex adults for committing the act of sodomy, and so far, the criminal prosecutions for sodomy have only been restricted in the context of criminal offending, rather than against consensual same sex partners.”

Statements by Public Figures

2015

In August, the United Nations launched a Pacific campaign against homophobia and transphobia. The initiative is a spin-off of the global United Nations Free & Equal Campaign led by the UN Human Rights Office. The launch event was attended by government representatives from Tonga.

In May, the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network’s Isikeli Vulavou said a conference in Tonga brought together 70 regional representatives from the Lesbian-Gay-Transgender-Bisexual community for the first time. Mr Vulavou claimed people are becoming more accepting: “In Polynesia, they have been accepting of transgender like the fa’afafine, akava’ine and the Tongan leitis for years and for like other regions like Meleanesia there is change that is observed where we are seeing increased community acceptance to persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.”

We are seeing increased community acceptance to persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

Isikeli Vulavou, Pacific Sexual Diversity Network

Mr Vulavou said the opening of the conference by the Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon Siaosi Sovaleniand the attendance of a member of the royal family shows the positive reception the group received from the local authorities.

Persecution and Discrimination

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Tonga states that there was one report of violence against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity during the year, but social stigma or intimidation may have prevented reporting of other incidents of discrimination or violence.

2015

Outside a conference on Sexual Diversity and Orientation in the Pacific held in Tonga in May, a group of protesters held up a banner which read: “Go back to your country with your immorality, Tonga do not want you evil people.”

Legislative News

2018

In its third UPR cycle in April, Tonga received recommendations from the working group concerning the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations, as well as providing protection from discrimination for LGBT persons. Tonga stated that it would examine these recommendations and provide responses in due time.

2015

A historic conference on Sexual Diversity and Orientation in the Pacific held in Tonga in May, opened by the Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga and attended by a member of the royal family, was aimed at discussing issues and human rights legislation.

In April, Tonga’s Chief Executive of Internal Affairs Lopeti Senituli said the government planned to amend the country’s Deaths, Births and Marriages Registration Act to explicitly prohibit same sex marriage. This move came in response to concerns raised by some community and church leaders that Tonga’s planned ratification of CEDAW may oblige Tonga to legalise same-sex marriage.

Footnotes
1. Laws of Tonga, Chapter 18, Criminal Offences Act, S. 136 Sodomy and Beastiality

“Whoever shall be convicted of the crime of sodomy with another person … shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any period not exceeding ten years.” Full text.

2. Laws of Tonga, Chapter 18, Criminal Offences Act, S. 139 Attempted Sodomy, Indecent Assault Upon a Male

“Whoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime of sodomy or shall be guilty of an assault with intent to commit the same or of any indecent assault upon any male person shall be liable at the direction of the Court to imprisonment for any term not exceeding 10 years.” Full text.

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