The Pacific Republic of Palau has decriminalised gay sex in a revision of its penal code.

Although the new criminal laws came into force at the end of July, they were only announced on Wednesday.

The new code was passed by the Palau National Congress and signed into law by President Tommy Remensegau Jr in April.

Previously, gay sex was punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, although lesbian sex was legal.

Dr Paula Gerber, president of Kaleidoscope Australia, said: “This is wonderful news – giving a much need impetus to the process for reform in the Pacific.

“It is especially pleasing to see that recommendations made during the UN Universal Periodic Review process appear to have had an impact.

“Kaleidoscope Australia regularly submits shadow reports to UN review processes, calling for an end to the criminalisation of homosexuality.

“Kaleidoscope Australia will continue to work with LGBTI activists in Asia Pacific nations to follow the example recently set by Palau.”

Eight other Pacific regions which still prohibit consensual sexual activity between men include the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.