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Dame Carol pushes to decriminalise homosexuality in PNG

ELISE KINSELLA | ABC Radio Australia

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 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. Anthropological writings make it very clear that homosexuality did exist traditionally, and often it was ritualised in initiation ceremonies in certain areas of Papua New Guinea."


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Peter Kranz

Well Bernard has a good idea. Let this be publicly debated with the young people having their say.

But keep the Churches away - they have too many vested interests. (Ironic considering the history of Catholic priests.)

Interestingly, there is a "Condoms for Christ" campaign in Brazil to protect carnival-goers from STDs.

Bernard Yegiora

Dear Lady Kidu - I suggest you organize a debate in the four major universities in the country.

Use their facilities and identify those who are against the notion and tell them to debate against you and your team.

Organize with the media (FM 100, NBC, the National & Post Courier) for coverage.

Don't just talk, organize something to see how other Papua New Guineans feel and think about your proposition.

I for one I am willing to organize an event of that nature in the University I am working for, that is Divine Word University.

My Department is called PNG studies, we teach PNG history, culture, and politics. Thus, it would be enlightening for my students to sit down and listen to a debate about this very controversial issue.

Yvonne Hani

Homosexuality did exist in traditional Papua New Guinean societies, but for the purpose of rite of passage initiation processes for young boys.

Of course some of the processes involved may have being homosexual in nature, they had more symbolic meanings and were meant to detach a young boy from his mother and turn him into a man.

The outcome, young boys turned out to be men, marry the opposite sex and raise families of their own. In one way or another this process maintained stability in society compared to current homosexual behavior.

Aren't there more pressing issues to push for Dame Carol Kidu? Why not understand these rite of passage processes in traditional PNG societies and look into areas to help our young people.

Why else do you think young people are resorting to cult activities in schools, grafitying all over the city, consuming alcohol, drugs, and other such illegal activities?

Because today's PNG society largely influenced by Western ideology does not understand the importance of processes as the rites of passage for young people.

We should be encouraging sporting activities, art, etc, to engage youths in. It is a process that actually makes a young person feel they belong and they have a purpose in life.

Our PNG culture has changed over time and so have many cultural practices (though some people tend to argue some practices have died out).

We just need to better understand traditional practices and blend in with today's society rather than making misleading statements to support some crazy behavior.

Homosexuality in the way it is today cannot be supported on the basis that it is part of some traditional activity.

Peter Kranz

Here's a provocative comment. It sounds like the Christians are trying to impose their version of Sharia law on PNG society with such campaigns against gays.

We scream horror when such laws are proposed by Muslim fanatics, but apparently support similar things when proposed by Christian fanatics.

What's the old saying about the pot and the kettle?

Peter Kranz

Barbara - Maybe you should tell this to Beldan Namah concerning his recent alleged episode at Sydney's Star Casino.

Anyway, isn't this about basic human rights, not religious dogma?

Funny thing is that adultery is also still illegal on the PNG statute books. How long ago was this enforced? And if it was, where would this place many polygamous PNG members?

Mrs Barbara Short

Having experienced at first hand the indignation of PNG students to homosexual relationships between a teacher with a Keravat student in 1981, I feel this call by Dame Carol Kidu for PNG to decriminalise homosexuality is not something many PNG people would agree with.

The students caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to the school and they were very angry that homosexual relations had occurred. To them it was an abomination.

The problem in Australia now is that homosexual couples want their relationship to be recognised as being the same as a man-woman relationship and they want the Marriage Act changed so their relationship can also be called a marriage.

The Christian church believes that a true marriage is between a man and a woman, not a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

One PNG minister said recently -"Much good comes out of the West which pleases God and humanity but not this thing about tolerating homosexuality."

Peter Kranz

Tanya and Corney - you've obviously never been to Gay Night at Shady Rest.

Corney K Alone

This will be another blunt statement.

I have yet to read reports and statistics of societies getting any better from where they were as a result "legitimizing and granting full scale right to dig into human beings bodies' rear ends".

Legitimizing homosexuality in PNG will not right a wrong but will grant legitimacy (legal right, permission, blessing or OK to the minute fraction of the population and foreigners who ply this trade to abuse gullible, ignorant and innocent Papua New Guineans in a big commercial scale.

Is this development?

I label this "devil-opment".

I have been a critic (and still am) of Outcomes Based Education System (OBE) in PNG - which has given right to the mass production of poorly educated youngsters.

(The O'Neill Government wanted this scrapped - a welcome announcement.)

Now, it this the kind of opportunity and jobs that we have been secretly planning to absorb these poorly educated youths into - an abominable way of making ends meet and their survival?

This country has seen enough rot in other forms of digging/harvesting and shipment.

The next government has "other more urgent and critical issues to deal with" than wasting time with something that is clearly a non-issue (and realistically of no value)to the masses of this blessed country.

Carol Kidu - with the experience you have under your belt and the important networking that you have build during your political career, please start campaigning on a more respectable bill that the country will support you on.

This homosexuality thing, the people of PNG will not buy into it, so please put the proposal into the trash bin and forget about it.

Yuambari Haihuie

As someone who believes in individual autonomy being a cornerstone of any worthwhile democracy, I cannot see how anyone can dictate what two or more legally consenting adults with political franchise choose to do in their private lives, e.g customary polygamy, regardless of what the majority believes.

Having said that, I also don't believe that the betterment of society is achieved through the following of some sort of check-list of nebulous targets, which should be completed sequentially, but rather the approach should be of parallel solutions that are achieved concurrently.

For example we as the human race shouldn't stop exploring space just because we haven't fed all those on earth who are starving to death, it isn't a zero-sum game - we can do both, we should do both.

John Wali

The act of decriminalising homosexuality will not solve the unemployment problem and is something we do not want to encourage.

Yes, we are peoples of a thousand tribe and in one of those tribes these practises may have been encouraged for whatever reason. These tribes have, to their credit have grown out of it.

Using this example as a plank to decriminalising the homosexuality practise in the national level is not the ideal solution for solving unemployment.

We haven't exhausted all avenues just yet.

Maybe go with Polye’s proposal of getting all youths into National Service – that’s one option to consider.

Corney K Alone

Dame Carol - There are other pressing issues to deal with that can meaningfully engage the youth of Papua New Guinea.

Certainly not this cheap license to corrupt the youth and future of PNG.

Trade related jobs and opportunities, "tailored and clean tourism jobs and opportunities", agriculture and others are glaring in front of our faces.

These are the issues that require immediate policy intervention and financial banking from the PNG Government and others that do genuinely care to land a hand.

Not definitely "another license to mine, fish, pollute and destroy the rear ends" and the morality of the youths of my beloved country. Doing so would invite curse.

The youth of PNG must be empowered to get off their rear ends, sweat their brows and get their hands dirty to make a decent living.

Now, that's something that we will be proud of - a legacy worth eulogising over after we have effectively retired and retire for eternity.

Please don't jump into this bandwagon too soon because some big organisations and funding agencies want us to implement. We must apply wisdom to choose the kind of progress we want.

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