An outgoing Member of Papua New Guinea’s Parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, is calling on the country’s next government to decriminalise homosexuality.
Dame Carol says she believes homosexuality should be treated as a health and human rights issue and not as a criminal offence.
She says doing this can help reduce the HIV rate and benefit the entire country.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for Solomon Islands and PNG, which runs HIV support services, has offered qualified support for Dame Carol’s stance.
But the General Secretary, Father Victor Roach, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat they cannot support it outright.
“If [a homosexuality allegation] is brought to the court and it has to be tried, I think the Church is against it,” he said.
Last year, PNG, Samoa and Solomon Islands told the United Nations they would not decriminalise homosexuality despite pledges by Palau and Nauru to do so.
Dame Carol told Pacific Beat, the British colonial laws and Christian influence have erased homosexuality from the country’s history.
“There’s a lot of denial going on in all our countries when they’re saying that homosexuality was brought in by the western world,” she said.
“To be quite frank, that’s not true. Anthropoloogical writings make it very clear that homosexuality did exist traditionally, and often it was ritualised in initiation ceremonies in cetrain areas of Papua New Guinea.”