Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is adamant.
As long as he is around, the idea of same sex marriage in Samoa will never be allowed.
Tuilaepa reiterated his position in Auckland this week where the Marriage Amendment Bill is being discussed.
In an exclusive Samoa Observer interview, PMTuilaepasaid, “My view as the leader of Samoa on this gay marriage issue is simple: There is no way, none whatsoever, that this issue will ever be considered in Samoa.
He reemphasized, “The Samoan parliament would never consider a bill such as this, at least not in my time.”
His reason for rejecting gay marriage is based on Christian beliefs and those of the churches in Samoa.
“It is the strong and combined view of the government of Samoa and the country’s religious denominations. We stand united against this because Samoa is founded on Christian beliefs.”
He added, “And Christian beliefs are against this type of behavior which the Bible states, was the reason for the cursethat brought destruction on Gomorrah and Sodom. It is where the saying ‘Fa’asotoma’ (Sodomy) originated from.”
He reaffirmed his stance on the matter will not change.
“It is very clear that the sacrament of marriage is between a man and a woman. Same sex marriage is a sin,” he said.“And no matter how people present this issue, no matter how they wrap it up, there is only one truth, and that is, this type of behavior is a sin.”
It is why he applauded New Zealand’s members of parliament who are of Samoan heritage who are against Ms Louisa Wall’s gay marriage bill.
“I am very happy to hear that some Samoans who are members of New Zealand’s parliament are standing firm to support our traditional Samoan Christian beliefs.”
However, he was quick to point out that New Zealand is a sovereign nation and its parliament will make and pass laws through the democratic process on its own.
But if the bill becomes a New Zealand law, the future scenario of a New Zealand same sex couple applying to live or work in Samoa, “we will address that issue if it arises,” he confirmed.
“But today, in Samoa, that type of behavior is not allowed.”
But PM Tuilaepa’sstance on gay marriage is in line with a growing number of the New Zealand public.
By Wednesday morning of this week, the result of aNZ Herald digipoll of 32650 votesshowed 54 per cent voted against same sex marriage.
But Labour MP Louisa Wall, the bill's sponsor, told media the poll still showed New Zealanders are in support of same-sex marriage, "despite the opposition spending what seems vast amounts of money on an active and negative campaign built on fear and misinformation".
But the poll result against the marriage bill also comes on the back of the ‘Society for Promotion of Community Standards’open petition to the Attorney-General to ‘strike down’ what they consider to be the ‘flawed’ Marriage Bill.
The 22nd of March petition contains a supporting document highlighting where Louisa Wall's legally flawed bill discriminates against people based on their married status under the Marriage Act 1955.
It also detailed where the Marriage Bill discriminates against those with sincere religious beliefs relating to their faith-based belief in marriage as limited to one man and one woman - ordained by God.
Both categories - married status and religious belief - are specified grounds in section 21 of the Human Rights Act 1993 for protection from discrimination under section 19 of New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
It is the protection of those rights that Mangere MP Su’a William Sio tabled a Supplementary Order Paper in parliament this weekto amend the bill.
“We have got to have a clause in that marriage bill that still protects the freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of religion because the reality is there are those in the community who believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he told the New Zealand Pacific.
The three areas that need protection, according Su’aare:
“First, there is already an amendment to exemptmarriage celebrants from marrying same sex people. However, the Select Committee only stipulates the exception is valid as long as the belief of the marriage celebrant’s religion or organization supports that. But what it doesn’t cover is the personal belief of the individual marriage celebrant. It means this bill, as it is, does not protect the individual’s beliefs.
“Secondly, the churches.Their freedom and rightspertaining to theirconsecrated facilities.If the churches don’t feel comfortable about their facilities being used to marry same sex couples or host their functions,are they able to say ‘no’.Church ministers are concerned that their right to say ‘no’ because of their beliefs will be taken away by this bill.
“Third, if same sex marriage becomes legally recognized by law as marriage, what about the churches freedom to be able to provide council, advice, and to express to same sex couples that the marriage they believe in is between a man and a woman?”
Su’a believes his amendments, if the bill becomes law, will provide the necessary boundaries by which “communities can work side by side and conduct their affairs without being threatened, persecuted or prosecuted”.