In his annual Independence Day address yesterday, Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare spoke of his unease about LGBTQIA+ issues.
Gay sex is illegal in Australia’s near neighbour, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, though the law is not enforced.
The prime minister said he didn’t want to see LGBTQIA+ issues used as a condition for accessing aid.
Manasseh Sogavare made the remarks at celebrations marking 45 years of independence for the former British colony. Solomon Islands is one of many former British colonies that retain anti-gay laws introduced by the colonial power. In the Pacific, sex between males remains illegal under laws introduced by the British in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, and Tonga.
During his speech, the prime minister addressed various national challenges including climate change, infrastructure development and the protection of the country’s ‘Christian and cultural values’.
92 per cent of Solomon Islanders identify as Christian.
Sogavare spoke of becoming “increasingly uneasy” about LGBTQIA+ issues.
“I do not want the issue of LGBTQIA+ to be weaponised against us and used as a condition for accessing aid.
“I am watching and following the debate there very closely and I’m conscious of how the contents of television and movies have captured this and infiltrated our society.”
Another comment seemed to indicate a move to create a firewall against overseas cultural influences. Sogavare said his government would create a local TV station, through the nation’s national broadcaster.
“We will not allow others to impose their values on us.”
Currently, TTV, the country’s main television network, carries a large amount of Australian content.
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