LGBT rights in Kiribati

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StatusMale illegal
Female legal[1]
PenaltyUp to 14 years in prison (not enforced)
Gender identityNo
MilitaryHas no military
Discrimination protectionsYes (in employment only)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Kiribati face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Male homosexuality is illegal in Kiribati, with a penalty up to 14 years in prison, but the law is not enforced. Female homosexuality is legal, but lesbians may face violence and discrimination. However, employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited.

In November 2016, Kiribati voted against a plan to get rid of the UN Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations General Assembly. The push to get rid of the UN expert failed in a 84-77 vote. As the voting was on an amendment to block an anti-LGBT proposal, a vote in favor was a vote for keeping the special rapporteur on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Kiribati along with Sri Lanka were the only two countries, where homosexuality is still criminalised, who voted this way.[2]


Kiribati is home to a traditional transgender population. The Gilbertese word binabinaaine refers to people who were assigned male at birth but act, dress and behave as female, while the word binabinamane has the opposite meaning, that being a person who was assigned female at birth but behaves as male. People who live as these gender roles have traditionally been accepted by Kiribati society, and are not perceived as immoral or disordered, but as belonging to a third gender alongside male and female.[3]

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Sections 153, 154, and 155 of the Penal Code outlaw anal intercourse regardless of sex.[4] There are no reports of prosecutions directed against LGBT people under these laws.[1]

153. Unnatural Offences

Any person who-
(a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or
(b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her,
shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

154. Attempts to commit unnatural offences and indecent assaults

Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences it specified in the last preceding section, :or who is guilty of any 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.

155. Indecent practices between males

Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another :male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or :attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another :male person, whether in public or private, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to :imprisonment for 5 years.

Decriminalisation efforts[edit]

In August 2015, as part of the Universal Periodic Review, Kiribati's human rights record was scrutinised by other countries. France, Slovenia and Chile urged Kiribati to repeal its laws against homosexuality. The Kiribati delegation made no response to these recommendations.[5]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Discrimination against employees and prospective employees based on "sexual orientation" is prohibited under Article 107(2)(b) of the Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015.[6]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (For males, not enforced)/Yes (For females)
Equal age of consent No (For males)/Yes (For females)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (Since 2015)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Has no military
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]