The prime minister of Fiji has said he will never allow same-sex marriage because of his Christian beliefs.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama made the comments in a press conference on Sunday (April 7).
The political leader, who seized power in a 2006 coup but has since won elections, said he would never permit same-sex marriage to become law because Fiji is a “God-fearing country.”
According to the Fiji Sun, he said that as long as his FijiFirst party was in government, “Fiji will not allow same-sex marriage.”
Bainimarama then apologised to those in attendance for even bringing the issue up.
Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama condemned for ‘homophobic sentiments’
The leader’s comments were condemned by the Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR).
In a statement, NGOCHR chair Nalini Singh said: “The LGBTQI community is already marginalised within our society and these comments made by someone in authority, such as the Prime Minister, are extremely dangerous and only exacerbate the existing discrimination against members of the LGBTQI community.”
She added that he “shared similar homophobic sentiments in the past.”
In 2016, Bainimarama said of same-sex unions: “Fiji does not need that rubbish.”
He suggested that gay people who want to get married “should go and have it done in Iceland and stay and live there.”
Fiji has no protections for same-sex couples
The Oceanic country, which has a population of around 900,000, currently provides no legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Singh explained: “Same-sex couples and parents are not recognised.
“Even within the Family Law Act 2005, ‘de facto relationship’ is interpreted as a relationship between a man and a woman who live with each other as spouses on a genuine domestic basis although not legally married to each other.
“Families existing outside of the norm are marginalised, overlooked and stigmatised.
“It’s important not to reinforce these discriminatory structures and regressive ideologies. Instead, we should be promoting equality, human rights and nondiscrimination for all Fijians.”
The NGO head added: “A lot remains to be done to promote a culture of equality, respect, inclusiveness and diversity encompassing all Fijians and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI people in Fiji and around the world.”