Nauru becomes latest country to decriminalise homosexuality

The tiny island nation of Nauru has become the latest to decriminalise homosexuality.

The tiny independent Micronesian country – which sits north-east of Australia and has a population of just 10,000 – made the jump this week.

Until now it had kept sodomy laws that were introduced under Australian rule, based on Queensland’s own colonial-era criminal code.

However, the island acted this week to repeal the laws – which were only dropped in Queensland in 1990, and had not been enforced for many years.

The island has been attempting to modernise following an agreement with Australia that sees it used as a base to hold people seeking asylum.

The Nauru government on Friday announced that its Parliament had passed the ‘Crimes Act 2016’ to bring the nation’s century-old criminal code up to international human rights standards; bringing through changes from decriminalising attempted suicide and homosexuality to adopting a modern definition of rape.

It has also scrapped punishments including death penalty, imprisonment with hard labour and solitary confinement.

A statement from the government said: “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 decriminalising of homosexuality and 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.”

It comes just weeks after the Seychelles passed a law repealing old colonial-era sodomy laws.

The Seychelles government had specifically cited diplomatic pressures from the UK in influencing the decision.