Sexual orientation [LGBTQ+] and the draft of the new Solomon Islands Constitution
The latest draft of the new Solomon Islands constitution specifically excludes "sexual orientation" from nondiscrimination protections: The government in every sphere, and every organ of government, must not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including birth, age, ethnicity, social origin, race, colour, language, religion, conscience, belief or opinion, culture, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, social status or economic status. In this subsection, "sex" is
not to be interpreted as including sexual orientation.1
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Letter delivered at the weeklong Workshop from 29 February—4 March 2016
PERMANENT Secretaries and Under Secretaries of the various Government Ministries are currently undergoing a workshop as part of the Public Awareness on the 2nd 2014 Draft Federal Constitution of Solomon Islands. The Constitutional Reform Unit (CRU) is organising it at the Heritage Park Hotel. CRU, DCC Government's Fundamental Reform Unit (FRU) and Constitutional Congress, led by the Honiara City team have collaborated to carry out this awareness activity with these government officials. The awareness program started yesterday - Monday 29th February, with FRU Policy Secretary Warren Paia's presentation titled "From Unitary to Federalism". The turnout from the heads of the Ministries was promising as it shows their commitment to understanding the Federal system being proposed and endorsed by all nine Provinces in Solomon Islands last year. The weeklong program will also have technical explanations from CRU's Consultant Lawyer Reginald Teutao on the 2nd 2014 Draft. This will be the opportunity that the PSs and USs will have to get legal clarifications on the contents of the Draft. The awareness meeting will end on Friday 4th March 2016. I only noticed this newspaper article on 2 March, in the early morning, since I was busy the whole of 1 March attending and capturing Sir Peter Kenilorea's state and church's funeral. The following is a letter which I distributed on 2 March 2016. Since I was not permitted to enter the meeting and speech this, I managed to deliver 9 printed copies of this letter:
- One to the Island Sun newspaper and one to the Solomon Star newspaper
- One to the Vice Chair of CC & EPAC: Joseph Hute
- One to the Chair Lady of CC & EPAC: Jennie Toehaika
- One to the Consultant Lawyer Reginald Teutao,
- And to other attendants such as (Pernant / Under) Secretaries of the government.
Letter delivered at the workshop
Delivered at the weeklong workshop on the Draft Federal Constitution, at Heritage Park, on Wednesday 2 March 2016
Dear Permanent Secretaries of the government,
Dear Under Secretaries of the government,
Dear Constitutional Reform Unit,
Dear Constitutional Congress,
Dear Consultant Lawyer Reginald Teutao,
and dear distinguished attendants.
I am extremely grateful, as a man of foreign residence and ethnicity, for the opportunity which I have been given to present a call for urgent action to bring about change in the final days of the long and important Constitutional Reform which you are part of.
Please allow me to bring your attention to the proposed Constitution, as it is currently drafted; which is the purpose of our gathering.
In Chapter 1 of the 2nd 2014 Draft of the Constitution, in the second sentence of that Chapter, in the second sentence thus of the Constitution, after the preamble; it is written ... I quote: "The people of Solomon Islands establish the federal Democratic Republic of Solomon Islands as a sovereign state, founded on the principles of [...] [I omit a part of the sentence to go the relevant listed wordings] respect for the obligations of Solomon Islands under international law [...] [and the list goes on]" Founded on the principles of respect for the obligations of the country under international law.
At the same time, as I have pointed out in my recent 2016 article "Sexual orientation and the draft of the new Solomon Islands Constitution", the 2nd 2014 Draft of the Constitution explicitly allows for “discrimination (and for advocacy of hatred, and for incitement to cause harm) on the basis of sexual orientation".
This constitution is therefor inherently contradictory.5 The allowance of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is … I quote the recent 2016 report published by the Equal Rights Trust in partnership with The Secretariat of the Pacific Community: […] completely contrary to international human rights law, which has long recognised sexual orientation as a protected characteristic. Jointly with my article, I have published an on-line petition. As of date, I have received 48 prominent signatures across 2 petition platforms.
While that number may sound like negligible to some, to me: the hopes of change that they stand for are great.
These signatures are of the hands of regional and international sexual minority organizations; famous persons or activists in sexual minority culture; a founder of the field of gay and lesbian studies; professors of law or communication; academic or institutional experts on LGBT or human rights; a reverend who has visited the country and is of the Unitarian Universalist Church (a church which may hold up to 50,000 members in Solomon Islands); the Human Rights Officer of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Fiji, and many others who world-wide and publicly have shown there indignation about the discrimination and raise their voice for change in the respected Democratic Republic.
I would like to humbly ask ourselves to ask a question. How can it be that Solomon Islands criminalizes and discriminates against sexual minorities? The truth is that this criminalization arose in a time when many mistakes took place, which we call colonization. I would like to apologise sincerely on behalf of my ethnic group for the atrocities which we have committed against indigenous Solomon Islanders. My ethnic group has discriminated against, surpressed, blackbirded, enslaved, and generally hurt lovely people of the country. Instead of the love present on Solomon Islands, the colonizers had installed hatred and discrimination. We have discriminated against your people in general, not only; but also; against sexual minorities.
That is the answer to how this terrible mistake can be. But, even though there is apparently a way in which it can be; it can not be. It can not be, because Solomon Islanders are of the most respectful and considerate citizens of the world, who choose their words and thoughts carefully. It can not be, because Solomon Islanders strive for peace, unity and reconciliation. It can not be because all religions on Solomon Islands, whether prominent or in minority, share the same inter-religious values such as peacefulness, respect, sympathy, consideration of the disadvantaged. It can not be because peaceful churches world-wide have started an innovation in Christianity, to recognize and accept sexual minorities as equals, without any dicrimination. It can not be because people of Solomon Islands need to feel and be considered of equal moral value, and must be entitled to equal freedom, whatever their differences may be. It can not be, because Christianity is not repeating what others have dictated before. Repeating is empty. It is not to repeat what colonizers have installed here. Christianity is intro-spection. Intro-spection and dialogue on what is the most peaceful way to live together. To live together, with equals and others. We must not mistake values, the core of a religion, with colonized law. I think, to read Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, the Christian theologian and philosopher, is vital for this matter. However, maybe he must not be read, because churches here already know what peace is, what living together is, what not hating your neighbours is.
Dear ladies and gentlemen, some of your people call me boss at times. On behalf of my ethnic group, I feel ashamed. I bow my head. I do not deserve such a title. It is us who have committed the historical error of criminalizing homosexuality, of discriminating against sexual minorities. Listen to the peaceful call and innovation in your churches. You can do better than we have done. Your country can go beyond, move on, and can correct our mistakes. It is you who can change the way which the nation will be heading.
Can there be lessons learned from a discriminatory past? I thank you for your attention.
Vincent Verheyen, 2 March 2016
To bring about positive peaceful change in the country, one MUST talk to the Vice Chair of CC & EPAC: Joseph Hute. This man has understood Bildung. This man is an enlightened educated Solomon Islander, and highly knowledgeable. This man understands that it is sad to discriminate just because people love eachother. This person is a man who is liberal, and dares to open his mouth for peace. He holds no taboos. He is the archetype of a pedagogical teacher. If the United Nations could send out an expert, please refer to him.
For the love in Solomon Islands, I hope that this article might travel around the globe. Therefor, a 'Press' introduction can be found below, in multiple languages. It is not an abstract of academic standards that covers the whole article, but contains some anecdotes maybe more suitable for external media articles (some references are included in the 'International English' version):
新聞引言筆者，一位二十三歲歐洲人（比利時公民，於2015年10 月到達索羅門群島，在此之前從未聽說過索羅門群島）， 於2016年2月4日開始鍵入 (線上）尚未公佈在網際網路上的索羅門群島憲法的最新草案，並在前第二十頁中，筆者注意到有明確允許基於性傾向的歧視（以及宣揚仇恨和煽動傷害行為）。
如需更完整的引言，請參見英語 ('International English')，荷蘭語 ('Nederlands') 或法語 ('Français')。
如需更完整的引言，请参见英语 ('International English')，荷兰语 ('Nederlands') 或法语 ('Français')。
Introductie voor de persDe auteur, een 23-jarige Europeaan (en Belgisch staatsburger die nog nooit had gehoord van de Solomon Eilanden tot kort voor hij daar aankwam in october 2015) begon de laatste conceptversie van de Constitutie van Solomon Eilanden (on-line) uit te typen, op 4 februari 2016, aangezien die nog niet beschikbaar was op het internet. Diezelfde dag, in de eerste 20 pagina's, bemerkte de auteur de expliciete toelating van discriminatie (en van aanzet tot haat, en van aanmoediging tot leed) op grond van sexuele orientatie.
Hier, heeft de auteur slechts de tweede gepubliceerde kritiek op deze discriminerende verwoordingen in die specifieke conceptversie geuit (zoverre de auteur daarvan op de hoogte is, verscheen de eerste pas in een andere publication in 2016) sinds de ±2 jaar dat die conceptversie is goedgekeurd door een Gezamenlijke Plenaire Sessie van het Constitutioneel Congres en Eminente Personen AdviesRaad in april 2014 na 7 weken plenaire bijeenkomst, gegidsd door Philip A. Knight en professoren Yash Pal Ghai & Ronald Lampman Watts. Vervolgens was de specifieke conceptversie gefinaliseerd door de Constitutionele HervormingsEenheid en professioneel opgemaakt door Philip A. Knight, waardoor het de eerste professioneel opgemaakte conceptversie van de voorgestelde Federale Constitutie (een voorstel dat ontstond in 2004) werd.
Dit onderhavig artikel is het eerste gepubliceerde document (in zoverre de auteur daarvan op de hoogte is), dat de aanzet tot haat, en aanmoediging tot leed op grond van sexuele orientatie specifiek observeert en bekritiseert. Deze zijn ook toegelaten volgens deze discriminerende Constitutionele conceptversie. Het moet worden opgemerkt dat, in Solomon Eilanden, de Constitutie "het enige wettelijke instrument is dat discriminatie verbiedt".
Die Constitutionele conceptversie werd gepubliceerd op 6 mei 2014, en is gratis beschikbaar in druk via de Constitutionele HervormingsEenheid. Voor october 2015 was ze, door Provinciale BewustmakingsProgrammas, reeds bekendgemaakt aan ±500 Solomon Eilanders (waaronder leden van het parlement), waarbij ze schijnbaar geen gepubliceerde specifieke kritiek kreeg (uitgezonderd over het gebrek aan vermeldingen over vrouwenleiderschap). In October 2015 werd een verdere bewustmakings-consultatie gehouden in Fiji met 50 "studenten van de Universiteit van de Zuidelijke Grote Oceaan en de Nationale Universiteit Fiji, en Solomon Eilanders die belangrijke posities in verschillende academische instituten en regionale organisaties in Suva bemannen", waaronder doctoraatsstudenten. Vervolgens was ze ook unaniem goedgekeurd door 50 laatste of derdejaars rechtenstudenten van de Universiteit van de Zuidelijke Grote Oceaan in Vanuatu, ook in october 2015.
Introduction for the pressThe author, a 23-year old European (and Belgian citizen who had never heard of Solomon Islands up until recently before arriving there in October 2015) started keying in (on-line) the latest draft of the Constitution of Solomon Islands, on 4 February 2016, as it was not yet available on the internet. That same day, within the first 20 pages6, the author noticed the explicit allowance of discrimination (and of advocacy of hatred, and of incitement to cause harm) on the basis of sexual orientation.
Here, the author expressed only the second published criticism towards the discriminating wordings in that specific draft (as far as the author is aware, the first one only appeared in another 2016 publication) since the ±2 years that the draft had been endorsed by a Joint Plenary of Constitutional Congress (CC) and Eminent Persons Advisory Council (EPAC) in April 2014 after 7 weeks of plenary, guided by Philip A. Knight and professors Yash Pal Ghai & Ronald Lampman Watts.7 The specific daft was then finalized by the Constitutional Reform Unit (CRU), and professionally drafted by Phillip A. Knight, to become the first professionally drafted version of the proposed Federal Constitution (a proposal which came into existence in 2004).8
This current article is the first published document (as far as the author is aware) which specifically observes and criticizes the advocacy of hatred, and of incitement to cause harm on grounds of sexual orientation, as is also allowed for by this discriminating Constitutional draft. It has to be noted that, in Solomon Islands, the Constitution is "the only legal instrument prohibiting discrimination".9
That Constitutional draft was published on 6 May 2014, and is freely available in print from the Constitutional Reform Unit (CRU). Before October 2015, it was already made aware through Provincial Awareness Programs to ±500 Solomon Islanders (including Members of Parliament), receiving seemingly no published specific criticism (other than towards the lack of addressing women's leadership). In October 2015, an additional awareness consultation was held in Fiji for 50 "students from [the University of the South Pacific (USP)] and Fiji National University, and Solomon Islands nationals serving in key positions in various academic institutions and regional organizations in Suva", including PhD students.1011 Subsequently, it was also unanimously endorsed by 50 final or 3rd year law students of the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Vanuatu, also in October 2015.12
Introduction fo mediaAuthor stat writim na letest Draft blong Constitution blong Solomon Islands (inside lo internet), lo numba 4 lo Februari 2016. Lo sem de, time hem writim, hem noticim dat inside lo fest 20 page blong draft ia, oketa alawem discrimination base lo sexual orientation.
Lo sa ve blong hem, hem onli writim second publish criticism aboutem oketa discrimination words inside lo Draft ia. But den, hem sa ve dat lo disfalla Draft oketa allowem na fridom fo advocation fo hate and motif fo cosim trabol base lo sexual orientation, and hem fest wan fo writim out fo tallem public dat hem no agree.
Befo Novemba 2015, about 600 falla Solomon Islanders na oketa alredy save finis lo disfalla Draft blong Constitution, wea oketa writim cam lo numba 6 lo Mei 2014. Fo moa introduction, checkim English veson, Dutch veson or French veson.
Introduction pour la presseL'auteur, un Européan de 23 ans (et citoyen de la Belgique qui avais jamais entendu parler des Îles Salomon jusqu'à récemment avant arriver là en octobre 2015) commençait de taper (en-ligne) le dernier projet de la Constitution des Îles Salomon, le 4 avril 2016, car ce projet n'était pas encore disponible en ligne. Ce jour même, au cours des 20 premières pages, l'auteur remarquait la permission explicite de la discrimination (et de l'appel à la haine, et de l'incitation de nuire) sur la base de l'orientation sexuelle.
Ici, l'auteur a exprimé seulement la deuxième critique publiée envers les formulations discriminatoires dans ce projet spécifique (dans la mesure de des connaissances de l'auteur, la première apparait seulement dans un autre publication de 2016) depuis les ±2 ans que le projet a été approuvé par la Plénière Commune du Congrès Constitutionel et Conseil Consultatif des Personnes Eminents en avril 2014 après 7 semaines plénières, guidé par Philip A. Knight et les professeurs Yash Pal Ghai & Ronald Lampman Watts. Le projet spécifique a ensuite été finalisé par l'Unité de la Reforme Constitutionnelle et a été rédigé professionnellement par Philip A. Knight, pour devenir la première version du proposé Constitution Fédéral (un proposition qui commençait en 2004).
Cet article-ci est le premier document publié (dans la mesure de des connaissances de l'auteur) qui specifiquement observe et critique l'appel à la haine, et l'incitation de nuire sur la base de l'orientation sexuelle, qui est aussi parmis par cet projet Contistutionel discriminatoire. Il faut être au courent que, dans les Îles Salomon, la Constitution est "le seul instrument qui interdit la discrimination".
Ce projet Contistutionel a été publié en 6 May 2014 et est disponible gratuitement en version imprimée de l'Unité de la Reforme Constitutionnelle. Avant octobre 2015, il a déjà été inspecté, parmis des Programmes de Sensibilisation Provincials, par ±500 Salomoniens (y compris des membres du Parlement), apparement en recevoir aucune critique spécifique publiée (autre que sûr l'absence du leader feminin). En octobre 2015, il y avait une autre consultation de sensibilisation en Fiji avec 50 "étudiants de l'Université du Pacifique Sud et de l'Université National de Fiji, et des Salomoniens qui occupent des positions importants dans des instituts académiques et organisations nationals divers en Suva", y compris des doctorants. Ensuite, il a aussi été approuvé à l'unanimité par 50 étudiants de droit en dernière ou troisième année de l'Université du Pacifique Sud en Vanuatu, aussi en octobre 2015.
Einführung für die PresseDer Autor, ein 23-jährige Belgier (die noch nie von der Salomonen gehört hatte bis vor kurzem vor seine Ankunft in Oktober 2015) begann der neuesten Entwurf der Verfassung der Salomonen (on-line) einzugeben, auf 4. Februar 2016. Am gleichen Tag, innerhalb der ersten 20 Seiten, bemerkte der Autor die ausdrückliche Erlaubnis von Diskriminierung (und von Hassreden, und der Anstiftung zu Schaden) auf der Grundlage der sexuellen Orientierung.
Hier (soweit dem Autor bekannt), äußerte sich der Autor nur die zweite veröffentlichte Kritik an den diskriminierenden Formulierungen in diesem bestimmten Entwurf; und der erste veröffentlichte Kritik, die spezifisch das Hassreden und der Anstiftung zu Schaden auf der Grundlage der sexuellen Orientierung; auch durch dieser diskriminierenden Verfassungsentwurf erlaubt; speziell beobachtet und kritisiert.
Das Verfassungsentwurf wurde am 6. Mai 2014 publiziert und ±600 Bürger der Salomonen wurden bereits darauf aufmerksam gemacht vor November 2015.
Für eine mehr komplette Einführung, sehe English ('International English'), Niederländish ('Nederlands') oder Französisch ('Français').
लिए परिचयकुंजीयन (ऑनलाइन) शुरू कर दिया, पर 4 मार्च, 2016, पहले 20 पृष्ठों के भीतर, लेखक भेदभाव की स्पष्ट भत्ता (और घृणा की वकालत की और शह देखा कारण नुकसान) यौन अभिविन्यास के आधार पर। यहाँ (जहाँ तक लेखक के बारे में पता है के रूप में), लेखक कि विशिष्ट मसौदा और पहली बार प्रकाशित आलोचना जो विशेष रूप से देखने को मिलती है और घृणा की वकालत की आलोचना में भेदभाव शब्दों के प्रति केवल दूसरे प्रकाशित आलोचना व्यक्त की, और शह के आधार पर नुकसान का कारण यौन अभिविन्यास है, जो भी है कि भेदभाव संवैधानिक मसौदा द्वारा लिए अनुमति दी जाती है। यही कारण है कि संवैधानिक मसौदा 6 मई 2014 को प्रकाशित हुआ था, और पहले से ही Nov, 2015 से पहले लगभग 600 सोलोमन द्वीप को अवगत कराया गया था।
Introduzione per la stampaL’autore, un Belgo da 23 anni (che non aveva ascoltato dalle Isole Salomone prima di arrivarsi in Ottobre 2015) cominciava a digitare (on-line) l'ultima versione della Costituzione dalle Isole Solomone, il 4 di Febbraio 2016. Già lo stesso giorno, nelle prime 20 pagine, l'autore era stupefatto del assegno esplicito di discriminazione (anche della promozione di odio e incitamento die causare danni) sulla base dell'orientamento sessuale.
Qui (per quanto l'autore ne ha conoscenza), l'autore ha espresso soltanto la seconda critica pubblicata verso le parole e le formulazioni discriminanti in quella versione specifica (l'ultima versione della Costituzione dalle Isole Solomone) e la prima critica pubblicata osserva e critica la promozione di odio, e di incitamento da dannare sulla base dell'orientamento sessuale, che viene consentito in quella versione.
Quella versione della Costituzione dalle Isole Solomone veniva pubblicata il 6 Maggio 2014, ed era già portata all'attenzione di ±600 abitanti dalle Isole prima di Novembre 2015.
Per una introduzione più completa, vedere inglese ('International English'), olandese ('Nederlands') o francese ('Français').
논평을 위한 서론2015년 10월 방문 전까지 솔로몬군도에 대해 전혀 들어본 적이 없는 23세 벨기에 출신 필자는 2016년 2월 4일, 솔로몬군도 최근 헌법안(인터넷링크)을 살펴보기 시작했다.
같은 날, 첫 20장 내에서, 필자는 성적성향에 대한 명백한 차별(해로움을 유발하는 증오와 선동의 옹호)을 발견했다.
필자가 생각하기에, 성적성향을 이유로 증오와 선동을 일으킬 수 있는 헌법 내 차별표현에 대한 첫 관찰과 비평이 이루어진 이후, 두 번째로 이에 관한 비평을 표현하고자 한다.
헌법 초안은 2014년 6월에 출간되었고, 2015년 11월 전까지 약 600명의 솔로몬국민이 이 헌법 초안을 찾아봤을 것이라 예상한다.
보다 나은 이해를 위해 영어 ('International English'), 네덜란드어 ('Nederlands'), 프랑스어 ('Français') 버전을 참고하라.
Introducción para la prensaEl 4 de febrero del 2016, el autor, un belga de 23 años de edad (quien nunca había oído hablar de las Islas Salomón hasta hace poco, antes de llegar allí en octubre del 2015) comenzó a escribir (en línea) sobre el último borrador de la Constitución de las Islas Salomón. Ese mismo día, dentro de las primeras 20 páginas, el autor se dio cuenta de la explícita discriminación (y de la apología de odio y la incitación a causar daño) en base a la orientación sexual.
Aquí - hasta donde el autor sabe y manifiesta - es apenas la segunda crítica publicada hacia las expresiones discriminatorias, específicamente en ese borrador y es la primera crítica publicada en la cual se observa y critica la apología de odio y de incitación a causar daño, en base como se mencionó anteriormente: de la orientación sexual, actos discriminatorios permitidos que figuran en el borrador de la Constitución de las Islas Salomón.
El borrador de la Constitucion en mención fue publicado el 6 de mayo del 2014, y ya ha llegado a manos de un promedio de 600 Salomoneses, esto, antes de noviembre del 2015.
Para una introducción más completa, véase en Inglés ('International English'), holandés ('Nederlands') o francés ('Français').
Pagpapakilala para sa PressAng may-akda, ang isang 23-taong gulang na Belgian (na hindi kailanman narinig ng Solomon Islands hanggang kamakailan-lamang hanggang sa umabot ang Oktobre 2015) nagsimula ang pagsusulat (on-line) ang pinakabagong draft ng Konstitusyon ng Solomon Islands, sa 4 Pebrero 2016. Nang araw ring iyon, sa loob ng unang 20 mga pahina, ang may-akda ay napansin ang tahasang allowance ng diskriminasyon (at ng mga advocacy ng galit, at ng pang-uupat na magiging sanhi ng pinsala) sa batayan ng oryentasyong seksuwal.
Ito (kasing layo ng ang may-akda ay may kamalayan), ang may-akda ipinahayag lamang ang pangalawang-publish, pintas patungo sa nakikitang kaibahan sa mga salita sa partikular na draft at ang unang nai-publish, pintas na partikular na obserbasyon at pagpuna ang advocacy ng galit, at ng pang-uupat sa magiging sanhi ng pinsala sa lupa ng oryentasyong seksuwal, na kung saan ay pinahihintulutan din para sa sa pamamagitan ng na nakikita ang kaibhan Constitutional draft.
Iyon Constitutional draft ay nai-publish nuon 6 Mayo 2014, at noon ay na ginawa ng kamalayan sa ±600 Solomon Islanders bago ang Nobyembre 2015.
Para sa karagdagang pagpapakilala, tingnan Ingles ('International English'), Dutch ('Nederlands') o Pranses ('Français').
|SI||Solomon Islands: the Melanesian state "just a 3 hour flight from Australia".13|
|LGBTQ+||Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and others.14|
|LGBTI||Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, &/or Intersex.15|
Law on LGBTQ+ in SI
Sexual orientation & endorsed draft [published on 6 May 2014] of SI Constitution
- Endorsed draft of SI Constitution allows for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
- Endorsed draft of SI Constitution allows for advocacy of hatred (and incitement to cause harm) on the basis of sexual orientation
- The final Joint Plenary ever led to that latest endorsed draft of SI Constitution
- Criminalization of LGBTQ+ in SI
- Sexual orientation & endorsed draft [published on 6 May 2014] of SI Constitution
- Urgent need for sexual revolution in SI law and culture
- The fallacious arguments of 'un-Christian' & 'un-traditional' & 'un-natural' to discriminate LGBTQ+
- What can be done?
- P.S.: full title of this article & explanation of the title
Law on LGBTQ+ in SI
Sexual orientation & endorsed draft [published on 6 May 2014] of SI Constitution
Endorsed draft of SI Constitution allows for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientationIn that latest draft, under "Chapter 3—Our Human Rights", it is stated that "nation's fundamental values and principles" are to be described which will "belong to each person", that is of course starting from the effective date of the Constitution.
A nice promise. But what is written in that chapter, in the draft's Section 19) Right to equality and freedom from discrimination? I'll represent its relevant sub-section (sub-section 3) here in full: The government in every sphere, and every organ of government, must not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including birth, age, ethnicity, social origin, race, colour, language, religion, conscience, belief or opinion, culture, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, social status or economic status. In this subsection, "sex" is
not to be interpretedas including sexual orientation.1 Subsections 4 and 5 of that Section then further dwell on the basis laid in sub-section 3 above:
Subsection 4 of Section 19 of the Constitutional draft
Subsection 5 of Section 19 of the Constitutional draft
not to be interpretedas including sexual orientation, this leaves no doubt to the careful reader about the fact that this Constitution would indeed refrain from granting the right against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation within the Solomon Islands! This boils down to mentioning that the right of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is deliberately excluded from the Solomon Islands constitution.
The Constitution has 2 options regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: it can either allow for it, or it can not allow for it. If the Constitution would have not mentioned a word about sexual orientation, it would have only implicitly allowed for the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (which would have been less upsetting since: after all, one could argue that it is impossible to include all desirable characteristics which one should not discriminate for). But as it is written now, and considering what the Constitution had promised to do in this chapter, this is plainly explicitly allowing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientations.
In the first draft of 2009 (published on 26 June) of the new Constitution, the freedom from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation was actually newly and explicitly INcluded,16 before it vanished from the grounds listed in the consecutive 2011 draft.17 Vanished it stayed in the 2013 draft18, thus only to be yet later explicitly EXcluded as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the latest draft...
The 2013 draft had already, similarly but more restrictively discriminating, explicitly allowed for the creation of laws making provision for "the prohibition of cohabitation of same sex partners and same sex marriages"19 (for other and more comprehensive criticism on other topics and earlier versions of the Constitution, please refer to the document about any kinds of discrimination in the whole of Solomon Islands: "Stand Up and Fight: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Solomon Islands").
What a disturbing discriminating aspect of the Constitution has this become?
The only other publication (as far as I have been able to discover) which has criticized these specific wordings, is the thorough source "Stand Up and Fight: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Solomon Islands" which writes, amongst multiple warnings of danger, about the prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Constitution: [...] the list explicitly excludes sexual orientation from these grounds. This exclusion is completely contrary to international human rights law, which has long recognised sexual orientation as a protected characteristic.9 In order to fix this, I purport, the Constitution should now be revised in order to EXPLICITLY include the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. I think public apologies would be appropriate.
Please note that the constitution is "the only legal instrument prohibiting discrimination in the country".9
If one has well read the subsections 4 and 5 (reproduced above), one also has to note that the "a person" in the Constitutional draft, is defined as also including companies and other bodies: 264) Definitions [...]
"person" includes a company, association or other body of persons whether incorporated or unincorporated;1 This means that (if nothing changes) the new Constitution (as it is drafted now) would legally allow for the discrimination (which I criticized above), by the Solomon Islands government (or any organ of government), by any company, and by any person or body of persons.
Still in the "Chapter 3—Our Human Rights", under the draft's Section 25) Freedom of expression, publication and media, it is promised that... Everyone has freedom of expression and publication, which includes [...] freedom of the press, including print, electronic and other media [...] Now, along with the previously quoted Section 19) 3, this allows people to distribute pamphlets which discriminate sexual minorities.
Even the advocacy of hatred on the basis of sexual orientation is allowed by this endorsed constitution draft. One just has to take a closer look at that same Section 25 to notice that, about the advocacy of hatred, only the following is mentioned: Freedom of expression and publication does not protect a person who expresses [...] advocacy of hatred that [...] is based on any prohibited ground of discrimination listed or contemplated in Section 19) 3;
andconstitutes incitement to cause harm. This refers back to the grounds of discrimination in sub-section 3 of Section 19, where sexual orientation has been openly cut out of the Constitution's prohibited grounds of discrimination (as we have discussed above)...
As if that advocacy of hatred were not worse enough by itself, these 2 sections allow for even more twisted actions. If one reads the sentence from Section 25 which is quoted above literally, then both of its requirements (it is clearly written "
and" instead of "or") to stop protecting a person's freedom of speech can never be fulfilled when that person would advocate hatred on the basis of sexual orientation, even if that were to "constitute incitement to cause harm".
The final Joint Plenary ever led to that latest endorsed draft of SI ConstitutionI am still in shock about discovering the previously quoted passages from the latest draft of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Solomon Islands (that is the draft published on 6 May 2014).
The Constitutional Reform Unit (CRU) proudly advertise that draft on their website, notifying the availability of its copies (they were also notified and advertised in a different and more pictorial way by posters on at 4 big billboards, since late 2015, spread through the capital of the country): The 2014 Draft Federal Constitution was endorsed by the 4th Joint Plenary in April 2014. It was finalized by CRU technical team and Professional Constitution Drafter. This Draft is now available in print at CRU office.20 Apparently, this endorsement did not just happen in the blink of an eye. This approval process took 7 weeks: After 5 weeks, deliberating and getting professional perspectives from external experts on the 2014 Draft Federal Constitution of Solomon Islands, the 4th Joint Plenary met an extra 2 weeks to go through and endorse the professionally drafted 2014 Draft.7 The 4th Joint Plenary was also guided by "experts". Let's take a look at who these external experts might be. A jolly pamphlet distributed by the Constitutional Reform Unit, reveals the following "experts":
- Professor Yash [Pal] Ghai (Constitutional Law expert),
- Dr. Phillip [A.] Knight (Legal/Constitution Professional drafter),
- Professor Ronald [Lampman] Watts (Philosopher Economist & a founder of Forum of Federations).7
Update as of 23 February 2016: As of today, I have sent a letter jointly addressed to Philip A. Knight & Yash Pal Ghai, to ask for their support of my criticism, and to sign and share the petitions which can be found at the top of this article. I am currently awaiting a reply.
Criminalization of LGBTQ+ in SIA 2016 report published by the Equal Rights Trust, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), reveals that both "buggery" (or even attempting such intercourse) as well as physical acts of same-sex love remain illegal in Solomon Islands. The report, entitled "Stand Up and Fight: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Solomon Islands" is well worth reading on-line (and freely so).
This publication, in turn, refers (as have other reports done)61 to the 1996 revised edition61 of the country's PENAL CODE (Chapter 26 in the LAWS OF SOLOMON ISLANDS). More specifically, it quotes its Sections 160→162, which I will also introduce here below:
Sections 160→161: Criminalization of "buggery" in SI (7→14 years prison sentence)
Please note the liable 7- & 14-year prison sentences respectively. 160. Unnatural offences
Any person who—
- commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or
- permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her,
161. Attempts to commit unnatural offences
Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in the last preceding section, or who is guilty of any and assault with intent to commit the same, or any indecent assault upon any male person shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 7 years.62
Section 162: Criminalization of same-sex acts of love in SI (5 year prison sentence)
Such is revealed by country's PENAL CODE, through a section inserted by a 1990 act61 (before this replacement, that Section 162 was called "Indecent practices between males"):63 162. Indecent practices between persons of the same sex
Any person who, whether in public or private—
- commits any act of gross indecency with another of the same sex;
- procures another of the same sex to commit any act of gross indecency; or
- attempts to procure the commission of any act of gross indecency by persons of the same sex,
The International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) communicates that same-sex relationships are illegal altogether in SI, and that LGBTI families/parents cannot adopt children.69
Urgent need for sexual revolution in SI law and culture
From literatureThe Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State yearly publishes a Human Right Report on Solomon Islands. In every report since 2009, it includes the following: Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Sodomy is illegal, as are "indecent practices between persons of the same sex." The maximum penalty for the former is 14 years' imprisonment, and for the latter, five years. However, there were no reports of prosecutions directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons under these provisions during the year. There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.707172737475 Starting from 2012, that last sentence was altered as the following was added: [...], although stigma may hinder some from reporting.72737475 Therefor, it might be interesting to find out whether or not there is indeed a stigma against sexual minorities.
Let's once more consult the 2016 open access report entitled "Stand Up and Fight: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Solomon Islands", which was published by the Equal Rights Trust, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). It is indeed confirmed that such discrimination exists. The stigma is in fact even called "severe", which is certainly not an overstatement considering the information shared by reported interviewees. The report concludes:
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual persons are also subject to severe social stigma, with the result that there are very few openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons in the country. Testimony from gays and lesbians collected for this report provides evidence of harassment, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- These testimonies have indicated the existence of severe cases of harassment and discriminatory violence, and of discrimination in both employment and education.9
- [...] if Solomon Islands is to move on from the conflict which afflicted the country between 1998 and 2003, its people must stand up and fight traditions which exacerbate difference on the basis of ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation.76
It also learns us that, in the 21th century, a middle-aged mother was charged in SI under the previously mentioned PENAL CODE's section 162. Indecent practices between persons of the same sex, for having sex with a person of the same gender. It was first reported that the mother was refused bail after she appeared in court on 8 December 2013. SI magistrate Jefferson Leua was paraphrased in an Australian news article of having said that "the offence was a serious one".
On that same day, as a beam of light in the darkness, the illegality of the case was luckily publicly criticized by Ashley Wickham, which was then head of UNHCR77's Honiara Office.
Another New Zealand news article, on 12 March 2014, reports the following proceedings of the case: The Solomon Islands Magistrates Court has remanded a woman who has been charged with homosexual activity. The accused was remanded in police custody for the third time because the alleged victim failed to appear in court again. The court heard from the victim’s lawyer that her family was not happy with the crowds that gathered outside the court house to see the parties involved in the case. The woman charged is to reappear on March 24th.78 I have failed to find any outcome of this case, but wish to yet again note that a change for SI discrimination is extremely urgent (considering the discriminatory stigma and violence described above).
Articles in SI newspaper publicly discriminate and discourage homosexualityThe urgency for a revolution is also clear from other LGBTQ+ discriminating articles in SI's newspapers:
Articles in SI newspaper publicly discriminate and discourage homosexuality
In a SI newspaper article of 25 August 2015, John Toki, a West Guadalcanal chief from the Visale community in the Sangalu ward, is reported to discourage non-conformist 'lifestyles': The chief [John Toki] further stated that schools, churches and communities should discourage people from going into such lifestyles [gay marriage or lesbian couples] because it had distorted cultural values as well as Christian principles.82 I will come back to this later in "What is 'Christianity'?".
He [John Toki] also said that: Countries that were more likely to legalise such practices are societies with high population of those kind of people, thus Solomon Island was not one of them since gays and lesbian population had not existed at all to alert national attention.82 And then concluded by adding that: [...] rights of people must be practiced to certain limits that overlapped with our religious faith and home-grown culture, but not to go beyond the changes that still [are] 100 years away from today.82 Please note here that the claim of chief John Toki that "gays and lesbian population had not existed at all to alert national attention", is plainly wrong. Cf. Robert Aldrich's chapter "Sex in the South Seas", where it is documented that, starting as early as the 19th century, there have been numerous documented homosexual acts, including amongst missionaries of low and high rank. Further more, it reveals that:
- Europeans knew some men in the Solomons practised same-sex intercourse [...];
- Europeans also realised that homosexual practices on large copra plantations, with all-male labour forces of recruits from different islands of the archipelago, were not uncommon in the Solomons [...].83
- [...] is a lifestyle choice whether we like it or not.85
- immoral behaviour;
- immoral practice;
- unnatural practice;
- perverse lifestyle;
- perverse morality.85
We are living in the final hours of earth's history my friend. Why? Because in history when this perverse lifestyle was rife and mankind became like animals, God punished them with a flood. He then sent down rain on Sodom and Gomorrah for this same sin.
Now the world is making this practice legal, therefore, I bet you, it's not long before the God of the universe would visit this perverse world again. Till then, I'd say with Mr Toki, let's try and discourage this lifestyle/practice with our Christian and traditional values.85 I will not reason with the claim of an apocalypse, whatever that might mean.
The fallacious arguments of 'un-Christian' & 'un-traditional' & 'un-natural' to discriminate LGBTQ+In the SI draft report of the 11th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPRWG) of the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) of 9 May 2011, it is noted that the delegation (headed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Peter Shanel Agovaka) of the SI government reported the following: [...] the cultural context of the society does not condone relationships between same sexes. Any commitment to removing Penal Code provisions criminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex must be subject to consultations. However, there have not been any submissions to the Law Reform Commission in their review of the Penal Code to repeal these sections.86 Above, the government is sadly trying to escape its responsibility to follow international human rights, by referring to the current discriminatory 'tradition' within the prevailing culture.
On 21/9/2011, a delegation of the SI government declined recommendations of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPRWG) of the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) regarding sexual freedom. Peter Shanel Agovaka, as head of Solomon Islands Delegation to the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, gave the following reasoning: Recommendations not supported
While we acknowledge and recognize international human rights standards, I must say that in a Solomon Islands context it would be too early to discuss decriminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. Such an issue requires thorough national consultations to address christian doctrines and cultural perspectives on the issue. To this end, we do not support the Recommendations 81.49-81.51 on sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.87 This worrisome reply to international recommendations, clearly refers to 'Christianity'.
It is thus clear from both replies by the Solomon Islands government against the decriminalization of LGBTQ+, as well as from the newspaper articles (cf. earlier), that Solomon Islanders refer to either 'tradition' or 'Christianity' to claim that something (e.g. homosexuality) is un-appropriate, immoral or even un-'natural'. Please allow me to make some remarks on this in the following 2 sections.
What is 'Christianity'?One opinion-maker in a SI newspaper (cf. the expandable section above), writes the following: The worst case scenario is when the churches who are supposed to uphold Christian and moral values are being dictated to by the world as to what morality is.85 Well, both of these 2 views are obviously not mutually exclusive, as churches are obviously part of the world and in constant mutual communication with the world around them. But, in the context of what this author is trying to do, he probably fails to acknowledge that Christian churches themselves have started:
- allowing homosexuals as members;
- ordaining homosexuals;
- blessing homosexual unions; and
- marrying homosexuals.88
The faulty (and very dangerous) paradigm which the opinion-making author of the mentioned quote tries to propagate is that morality within Christianity somehow stays completely fixed and remains untouched by the constantly changing world. This is not only factual non-sense: claiming that religious morality needs this fixation is also one of the most dangerous paradigms of religious extremism.
The same aspect of fundamentalist extremism is also clearly visible in a previously mentioned 2015 statement by John Toki, a West Guadalcanal chief from the Visale community in the Sangalu ward: The chief [John Toki] further stated that schools, churches and communities should discourage people from going into such lifestyles [gay marriage or lesbian couples] because it had distorted cultural values as well as Christian principles.82 The speaker here seems to even acknowledge the fact that Christian morality and cultural values are changing, but clearly tries to condemn this reality and argues for a fixation.
Further more, just referring to a certain religion in an attempt to prove that something should be condemned, can dangerously overlap with numerous fallacies, such as: 'argumentum ad verecundiam', 'argumentum ad antiquitatem', or 'argumentum ad populum', to name a few.
The discriminating pseudo-argument of 'tradition'At many instances, LGBTQ+ discriminators on SI try to use the pseudo-argument of 'tradition'. See e.g. how is referred to (old) culture in the worrisome call for the discouraging of homosexuality (where it is said that 'cultural values' are being changed, without however specifying what these values actually are and why they should purportedly be held up by everyone in a certain country): [...] communities should discourage people from going into such lifestyles because it had distorted cultural values as well as Christian principles.82 When used separately, the argument of 'referring to the past' is of course nothing more than the fallacy 'argumentum ad antiquitatem'.
When LGBTQ+ discriminators use this fallacy, they also rely on the misleading and faulty claim that the Christian tradition does not welcome homosexuality, without acknowledging evolutions that have started within Christianity.
When LGBTQ+ discriminators use this fallacy by referring to general traditions (the Christian traditions or others), they fail to open a real discussion pertaining to the essential value (if they were even to be able to articulate such a value) of discriminating against LGBTQ+ (or the fears which cause this discrimination).
What is (more) 'natural'? Christianity or Homosexuality?As I have shown above, and as is not hard to understand, Christianity is a dynamic and pluralistic tradition. This fact (that Christianity; as well as any culture; is not some fixed natural constant) is vital to remember, also since it shows how weak the pseudo-arguments from LGBTQ+ opponents in can really get.
To frame this weakness in arguments, please allow me to drift off for moment to a country where the government does not "sponsors" LGBTQ+ discrimination.61
In October 2006, The Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo, in Norway, presented "the first-ever museum exhibition dedicated to gay animals".89 I will present what the museum described as their motives for displaying the exhibition: We feel confident that a greater understanding of how extensive and common this behaviour is among animals, will help to de-mystify homosexuality among people. — At least, we hope to reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature.89 I mention the quote above for 2 reasons.
- Firstly, because I think that such an exhibition should be financed and organized by the government in Solomon Island. Although, when hosting such an exhibition, one should be aware of Solomon Islands' counts of "traffic in obscene publication" (PENAL CODE Section 173) and "possession of obscene video tape or photograph" (PENAL CODE Section 174)62, whatever they may mean according to interpretation of the Principal Magistrate.90 When I spoke about homosexuality with a local Solomon Islander and acquaintance of mine, who works in the information sector of the government, she claimed that a lot of people in the country actually do not know what homosexuality exactly is (but yet claim to be viciously opposed) unless they are very educated. As the conversation went along, I discovered that she herself actually did not understand the term, as she continuously erroneously used the term "homosexuals" when she wanted to talk about transgenders (although she also did not use or perhaps remembered the latter term). Then I explained to her that "homosexuality" is not equal to "transgender", but instead is the sexual attraction to people of the same gender. As soon as she understood that, she thought that I would be hated and bullied in the press even more, if my petitions were to become known in the country, because of the closed-mindedness of the people in the country.
- Secondly, I mention this because it is claimed that there is a "too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature". Please allow me to elaborate on that in the remainder of this section.
Let us examine the newspaper article85 in which both of these claims occur together. The opponent of homosexuality, there, clearly claims 2 things:
- Homosexuality is 'un-natural',
- Opposed to this, is 'the Christian way'.
This seems to indicate that Christianity would be a 'natural' way. But that is of course non-sense, since Christianity is a novice tradition and culture itself.
The concept 'culture' can be only understood as being opposed to the concept 'nature', whereby it carries the meaning of being 'un-natural' in this sense.91 It takes a period of 'Enlightenment', as having arisen in privileged cultures (e.g. starting in the 17th century in Europe), to be able to reflect on human traditions in this way, which somewhat conquers the dangers of relying on 'tradition'.
Christian traditions, for example, have arisen in a certain century (not too long ago), and can certainly not be considered 'natural' in that way. Therefor, it is quite ridicule for those opponents (which also claim that 'homosexuality' is supposedly condemned by Christianity) to claim that homosexuality should be condemned because it is supposedly 'un-natural': Christianity is itself 'un-natural'.
Please make up your own mind, to answer the question as to what is more 'natural':
- Christianity (which has first originated only ±2 millennia ago); or
- Homosexuality (which humans have been enjoying over greatly longer periods of time, and is present in >1500 animal species89)?
- Christianity (which possibly only since 1839 had been tried to be exported into Melanesia in a colonial fashion, and was first violently rejected)92; or
- Homosexuality (which has been indigenously even ritualized in ±10-20% of Melanesia93, most likely way before)?
Hopefully, such dialogues can facilitate religious tradition on how to pluralisticly support their members in re-inventing each individual's way to find strength and comfort in core values such as peacefulness, respect, sympathy, consideration of the disadvantaged, and how to share and co-exist with 'others', in a constantly evolving world.
I have the feeling that people in Honiara have the knowledge on how to be able to let many different churches peacefully co-exist next to one another (even when a lot of money is involved). If they have this religious wisdom as regards to churches, they should also be able to extend this wisdom to a broader interpretation of religion (I am dwelling on any of the numerous meanings of the possible roots of the word 'religion', from etymological analyses)94. In this broader sense, in which any person who regards his life as meaningful can be said to be religious, an LGBTQ+ identity (and the experience of love that accompanies it) may well be understood as a (a part of a) religion itself. Please compare this broader interpretation with one Albert Einstein's writings which I cherish the most: What is the meaning of human life, or, for that matter, of the life of any creature? To know an answer to this question means to be religious. You ask: does it make any sense, then, to pose this question? I answer: the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life.95
Philosophical examination of the-'against nature'-argument, in relation to sodomyThe following can be read as a side-note about the classification of (what seems to be) anal intercourse as 'un-natural' in SI PENAL CODE
Philosophical examination of the-'against nature'-argument, in relation to sodomy
Lastly, I'd wish to show the unreasonable aspects of the quoted line by using analogous reasoning. Why would sexuality only be considered natural in its function to reproduce? To show the unreasonableness of those who assume so, one could (analogous to the quoted line) also argue that eating with loved ones (e.g. with a focus on obtaining mutual moral support) who have just lost a dear friend is also 'against nature', because it is using the nurturing power (or alternatively again: 'the reproductive power') in a manner contrary to its due end? I hope this shows the ridiculousness of this claim, and that what an author claims to be the 'due end' (or rather the only 'due end') is completely arbitrary, and mis-acknowledges the plurality of cultural and biological aspects of a behavior by relying on an extremely reductionist meaning of life. This reduction of life falsely seems to reduce meanings of human biological potentiality to that of a micro-organism (and even in introductory evolutionary biology textbooks on micro-organisms, it is not justified to interpret analysis of functions or 'ends' teleologically.97 It certainly leads to inevitable contradictions to assume that, just because a certain trait has a certain function, that this function would automatically be (or not be) 'due' (and only that function so) or that this function would be automatically to be (or not to be) pursued morally (and only that function so).
In the case of SI, the country has made the least progress in demographic transition of all Pacific Island countries, mainly due to high fertility levels.98 I am not an expert, but it could perhaps be very useful for SI if the government were to promote the enjoyment of sex for agreeable ends other than reproduction? There is certainly an need for SI women to stop fearing contraception98; a fear which perhaps was partly installed by a similar reductionist and arbitrary conception of human life?
What can be done?If you are a rights advocate (let it be for sexual minorities organizations, or of international law in general), please try your best to communicate your wishes to relevant persons and institutions.
You can help by sharing this article or by signing the petition on top of this page. Please try to contact journalists or press organization world-wide, as well as open-minded Solomon Islanders.
If anybody can arrange an office in Honiara, I would be happy to set up an LGBTQ+ organization to be able to defend the international rights of sexual minorities. People can also always contact me if they have any problems or want to talk.
I hope that citizens and organisations of Solomon Islands, with advanced respect towards the experience of human love, can participate in the very necessary revision of the Constitutional draft.
How much time is left?It is important to act quickly. On 2 April 2013, the Constitutional Reform Program (CRP) estimated that: [...] the Reform should end this year.99 In May 2014, the CRP estimated that the final state-building; which would follow the latest ratification stage of the Constitutional Reform (involving the Constituent Assembly, which includes "all Members of Parliament, MPAs [Assembly Members] of all nine Provincial Governments, and representatives of the Civil Society"57); would take place in 2015, by the Constituent Assembly: Constitutional Reform Main Activities [...]
14) Constituent Assembly: Previously called the National Convention, this will be the final ratification process whereby the proposed Federal Constitution will go through bargaining by representatives of Solomon Islands political community, both national & regional stakeholders. When the final content of the proposed constitution is audited and drafted, it will be presented to these representatives to seek an indicative community response to the final draft.
The Assembly also has a state-building role. It will be a time when discussion will take place establishing the new union, and bargain the new political order of Solomon Islands. Realistically, this activity is anticipated for 2015.
Under the amended Section 61 of the current 1978 Independence Order, the Assembly will endorse the Constitutional Order of a new Federal State of the Republic of Solomon Islands. For your reference, one can read Statutory Instrument 14) Alteration of this Order of the; and Section 61) Alteration of Constitution of the 1978 Independence Order (the current constitution) below:
Statutory Instrument 14: Alteration of this Order of The Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978
- Parliament may alter any of the provisions of this Order in the same manner as it may alter any of the provisions of the Constitution not specified in section 61(2) of the Constitution:
Provided that subsections (1), (2), (3) and (5) of section 9, section 10, subsections (1) and (2) of section 11 and this section may be altered by Parliament only in the same manner as the provisions so specified.
- Section 61(5) of the Constitution shall apply for the purpose of construing references in this section to any provision of this Order and to the alteration of any such provision as it applies for the purpose of construing references in section 61 of the Constitution to any provision of the Constitution and to the alteration of any such provision.100
Section 61: Alteration of Constitution of The Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978
- Subject to the provisions of this section, Parliament may alter this Constitution.
- A Bill for an Act of Parliament to alter any of the following provisions of this Constitution, that is to say—
- this section;
- Chapters II, VII and IX;
- sections 46 to 58 (inclusive), and 108; and
- Chapter XIV to the extent that it relates to any of visions specified in the preceding paragraphs,
- A Bill for an Act of Parliament to alter any provision of this Constitution (but which does not alter any of the provisions of this Constitution as specified in subsection (2) of this section) shall not be passed by Parliament unless it is supported at the final voting on two separate readings in Parliament by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament.
- Without prejudice to the provisions of subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a Bill for an Act of Parliament under this section shall not be passed by Parliament unless—
- notice of the Bill has been given to the Speaker at least four weeks before the first reading of the Bill in Parliament; and
- the Bill is clearly expressed to be a Bill for an Act of Parliament to alter the Constitution.
- In this section—
- references to this Constitution or to any particular provision thereof include references to any other law in so far as that law alters the Constitution or, as the case may be, that provision; and
- references to altering this Constitution or any particular provision thereof include references—
- to repealing it, with or without re-enactment thereof or the making of different provision in lieu thereof;
- to modifying it, whether by omitting or amending any of its provisions or inserting additional provisions in it or otherwise;
- to suspending its operation for any period, or terminating any such suspension; and
- to making any other provision that is repugnant to or otherwise inconsistent with it.100
As of 22 February 2016, the latest message on the wall of the official Facebook of the Solomon Islands Constitutional Reform Programme (CRP), by the CRP, was sent on 12 March 2014. As a reply to this message, a Facebook user asked for any update, on 11 October 2015, but did not receive any reply.102 The latest tweet on the official Twitter of CRP, was sent by the CRP on 16 (or 17 December, depending on the electronically used time-zone) December 2015. That tweet claimed that its website was then updated:
Updated website https://t.co/TBDVJqXRKV— Reform Solomons (@ReformSolomons) December 17, 2015
Its website has not been updated since 17 December 2015.103
It is unclear how much time is exactly left, but it is urgent to change course!
Update as of 3 March 2016: Yesterday, when I went to the weeklong Workshop from 29 February—4 March 2016 on 2014 Draft Federal Constitution, the Vice Chair of CC & EPAC (Joseph Hute) informed me that the new Constitution is expected to become effective by late 2016, or if not early 2017. The Chair Lady of CC & EPAC (Jennie Toehaika) seemed to have mentioned that she expects this to happen by the second half of 2016.
Update as of 1 July 2016: More time seems to be created:
- The consultations with the Bar Association also mark the conclusion of the consultation process of the 2nd 2014 Draft Federal Constitution. [...]
- He [the Prime Minister] said with the conclusion of the consultation process, what remains to be done are basically procedural and administrative matters.
The Prime Minister said as the Minister responsible for Constitutional matters, he will receive the final 2016/17 Draft Federal Constitution come early 2017 after which the government will decide on the type of ratification mechanism or process through which the people as well as elected leaders will scrutinise this document. 104
- The Malaita Provincial Government has made its intention clear that it will not support the National Government’s intention of introducing a Federal System of Governance. [...]
- Last year, Premier Ramohia announced that Malaita would like to adopt its own governance system that will work for Malaita and its people.
And not to wait for another ten years for the federal system and or review of the Provincial Government Act that will only drag economic development behind.105
SI contact details to facilitate (media) communicationPlease note that I have already notified this article to every "Contact" in the table below before 1PM (GMT+11) of 10 February 2016, within an hour after this article was published ("Forum Solomon Islands International" excepted, since they will not let me 'enter' their closed group). I have received not a single reply. Solomon Islands' press and institutions are not brave enough to report on this. This hints at how extensive the discrimination is embedded and how difficult it is to change the violation of human rights if the press is censured.
Therefor, it might be of better use to sign the petition near the top of this article.
Nevertheless, the following are contacts which could theoretically facilitate communication:
|Contact||Way of contacting|