Samoan fa'afafine reject same sex marriage | Pacific Beat

Samoan fa'afafine reject same sex marriage

Samoan fa'afafine reject same sex marriage

Updated 25 April 2013, 16:47 AEST

Samoa's fa'afafine, men who are raised as girls and live as women, don't want same sex marriage to become an issue in the country.

New Zealand and France have adopted laws legalising it, but So'oalo Roger Stanley, President of the Samoa Fa'afafine Association, says his country is not ready for such a change.

He says fa'afafine are concentrating on law changes which might remove prohibitions on female impersonation and indecent acts between men, which are still on the law books since before Samoan independence.

Mr Stanley tells Bruce Hill any discussion of same sex marriage might cause a lot of unnecessary problems for fa'afafine in Samoa.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: So'oalo Roger Stanley, President of the Samoa Fa'afafine Association


STANLEY: There are so many reasons out there, not only that our Prime Minister is now our patron and he is  strongly opposing the gay marriage bill of New Zealand. Basically what it comes down to is our Christian values and principles, and as far as the culture and religion. Because of the fa'afafine that we identify ourselves closely with, simply because it's very cultural oriented and so the cultural  norms is that suited us well in our society. So you see in that same concept that we are also taken as another strong sector where we opposed gay marriage.
HILL: People from outside Samoa seeing fa'afafine might jump to the conclusion ah, this is a gay thing or this is a transsexual thing. But it's a very specific phenomenon in Samoan society isn't it?
STANLEY: Yes, because you see we have another thing coming, I'm not sure whether you are aware of our crime ordinance bill that has just been passed by parliament. The crime ordinance bill, I think that's another totally different thing altogether, but in that crime ordinance bill we have three other things which is female impersonation, indecent acts between males and sodomy. So we've got this stuff on the line, which we're very happy that the crimes ordinance bill now has been passed by parliament, and a lot of stuff, I think two other subjects it's a very delicate time and we don't want for the gay marriage to push out our other issues, because it might jeopardise our chances of having those  dropped in the crime ordinance bill that we proposed in the crime ordinance. Because we reckon that is a much bigger work for us at the moment, and it's a priority for us. But then the gay thing, I think it's not in our court at the moment for us to make such a consideration. But of course we do understand of the human right factor to it and all that, but it's just that we would like to get silenced for now and not saying too much about it.
HILL: You seem a bit concerned that if the gay marriage issue comes up in Samoa that could get conflated with fa'afafine and that could sort of upset the balance between fa'afafine and the rest of society, which you seem to have at the moment? Fa'afafine are not discriminated against, it's a well known phenomenon and accepted in Samoan society?
STANLEY: Yes not now we are not too scared of, I mean it will never threaten us if the gay marriage is actually adopted here. I think it's the least of our concerns. But it's just that you're saying that we fit very well and we are very much part of the society, so it's a matter of us trying to stick to that way, and I think we are far much better off this way than supporting the case of gay marriage. But having the gay marriage around won't threaten us, it won't change anything for fa'afafine. I think it's an issue, well I just heard in the news that France has been supporting it, so I think it goes along with the French territories in the Pacific, which now is much closer to us, New Caledonia, Tahiti is there I think they're supporting it. But I think along the line, I think we need more time, I think down the line is who knows ? maybe ten, 20 years or so it will come around here. But we are very interested in the subject because of that, because of the human rights factor, but we are happily living in harmony here in Samoa, so we just don't want to stir things up.


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