Same sex marriage will not happen in a Christian nation

By The Editorial Board 25 May 2023, 10:00AM

The biggest Christian Church in Samoa has made a pretty bold statement calling on the Government not to even entertain any discussions on same-sex marriage.

The Congregational Christian Church Samoa (C.C.C.S.) will write to the Samoa Government and ask that it refrains from discussing same-sex marriage and transgender issues.

A bit too late for the transgender issue, as the former law criminalising impersonation of a woman by a man has been changed.

This position has been agreed to by the C.C.C.S. General Purposes Committee with the church's general assembly currently meeting this week to be advised of their leaders' decision. The decision by the church's leadership follows fears that Samoa's legislators have already begun to discuss the issue, according to senior members of the church.

C.C.C.S. elders – who are worried that "those who are responsible for making laws" in Samoa have touched on the issue – plan to "strongly object" to accepting same-sex marriages in Samoa as they say it goes against their Christian beliefs and want to ask the Government to refrain.

This is a fair enough call in a nation which has been founded on Christian principles and where Christianity is at the forefront in everyday lives.

There are only 30 countries in the world that allow same-sex marriage and included in these are Australia and New Zealand. No other Pacific countries allow for same-sex marriage but many have decriminalised homosexual acts.

Eight of the 14 Pacific nations have decriminalised homosexual acts but still do not permits same-sex marriage,

Samoa is signatory to many of the human rights conventions of the United Nations in which they agree to allow equal rights to all people.

To date lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Samoa face legal challenges. Same-sex sexual acts are illegal, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment, but the law is not enforced.

The Samoan society tends to be very tolerant of being transgender, but not of homosexuality. Even the Samoa Faafafine Association has come on record saying they do not advocate for the rights of the LGBT community.

In 2011, Samoa signed the "joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" at the United Nations, condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

By signing the joint statement, Samoa has made a commitment to the international community that it recognises the particular challenges faced by LGBT people when examined through a human rights lens and it will endeavour to end violence, criminal sanctions and related human right violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2013, the Crime Act 2013 replaced the Crimes Ordinances 1961. The previous law criminalised ‘the impersonation of a female’ by any male in Samoa. The abrogation of this provision was long overdue, as it was used to discriminately persecute Fa’afafine with fines or imprisonment.

However, discriminatory social and political attitudes are still existent in Samoa, as evidence by former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s description of same-sex marriage as an abomination and a “Sodom and Gomorrah practice.”

In June 2019, the country’s main censor, Leiataua Niuapu Faaui announced that it had banned the film ‘Rocketman’, a biopic on internationally renowned gay artist Sir Elton John, telling media it was incompatible “with cultural and Christian beliefs here.”  Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, told the Samoa Observer that the film is "not good for public viewing and violates laws against same-sex marriage.

Yet Elton John’s songs still play on the airwaves in Samoa and so do his music videos on television.

Similarly, in 2009, Samoa banned the film ‘Milk’, about gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

The leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis has said that the LGBT people are children of God and countries should act towards providing them equal rights which means to change laws which criminalise homosexual acts.

He did not say to allow for same-sex marriage.

In the Pacific, including Samoa, same-sex marriage laws may never be put in place however the call remains from international bodies for decriminalise homosexuality. That right there is the decision that has to be made by a sovereign nation and not because of international pressures.

The African nation of Uganda has recently passed a law which criminalises all homosexual acts. During a television interview, the Ugandan minister when asked about the law says “does Uganda tell the US how to run their country?”

The churches in Samoa can rest assured that same-sex will not be allowed in the country for years to come however the timeline on changing laws criminalising homosexual acts could be far closer than the matrimonial issues.

By The Editorial Board 25 May 2023, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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