Fiji Human Rights and Anti‑Discrimination Commission Director, Ashwin Raj says that international human rights law does not necessarily recognize same sex marriage as a right.
He made this comment after Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stressed that same sex marriage will never be accepted in the country although there is big talk on human rights in Fiji.
Raj says Fiji needs to have calm and rational debate on this sensitive subject and we must not mislead and politicize what international human rights law says on the issue and the Bill of Rights provisions of our Constitution and ancillary legislation.
He says the jurisprudence emerging out of the European Court of Human Rights instructs that same sex marriages are not necessary to deliver equality on the grounds of sex and gender as long as the marital status does not carry with it legal rights which are not available to unmarried couples.
He says the Court has found that the European Convention of Human Rights does not include the right to marriage for same sex couples either under the right to respect for private and
family life or the right to marry and found a family and that the question of same sex marriage is subject to the national laws of Contracting States and that the traditional concept of marriage as a union between a man and a woman does not impose an obligation on governments of the Contracting States to grant same sex couples access to marriage and that States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation in conferring an alternative means of recognition for same sex relationships.
Raj adds the European Court has included gender identity and sexual orientation in the definitions of sex and gender. Thus, as long as defacto couples, irrespective of whether they are same sex or not, have the same legal rights as married couples in Fiji, there is no breach of the right against discrimination for same sex couples.
Raj says what needs to be recognized is whether discrimination emanating from the denial of same sex marriages will have the effect of curtailing fundamental rights and freedoms leading to further discrimination.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has said that he was shown one of the posts on facebook which showed that a big faith based organisation has approved same sex marriage. Bainimarama says he is addressing this issue because he wants Fiji to hear his concern as the leader of the country on same sex marriage.
He says these are talks that are coming from different church groups.
He says this is not what is supposed to be happening in churches.
ADVERTISEMENTADVERTISEMENT Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.