May 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Nauru decriminalizes homosexuality

Nauru, gay news, Washington Blade

Nauru (Photo public domain)

Nauru announced last week that it has decriminalized homosexuality in the Pacific island nation.

A press release that Nauru’s government released on May 27 said the Crimes Act 2016 “removed homosexuality as an offense.”

The decriminalization of consensual same-sex relations is part of a new criminal code that lawmakers in the Pacific island nation have approved. The Crimes Act 2016 replaces the previous criminal code — which was based on one from the Australian state of Queensland — that had been in place since 1899.

“The government of Nauru continues to show progressive leadership and in keeping with its legislative agenda, has passed a new number of laws including the decriminalizing of homosexuality,” said the Nauru government in the press release that noted the new criminal code also decriminalizes suicide. “In complying with its international obligations under various international treaties, The Nauru Parliament has had laws drafted to be consistent with appropriate international standards.”

Nauru is a small Pacific island that is located roughly 2,800 miles northeast of Australia.

Lawmakers in the Seychelles voted earlier this month to decriminalize homosexuality in the Indian Ocean archipelago. Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain illegal in more than 70 countries throughout the world.

The Australian government pays Nauru to hold asylum seekers who try to reach the country by boat in a controversial detention and processing center on the island.

The Associated Press reported on May 2 that a 21-year-old refugee from Somalia was “critically injured” when she set herself on fire at the camp. An Iranian man who staged a similar protest against Australian government’s policies towards asylum seekers died less than a week earlier.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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