6 May 2013

Relief among Samoan fa'afafine at removal of impersonation crime

7:20 pm on 6 May 2013

The president of the Samoa Fa'afafine Association says fa'afafine are relieved that it is no longer illegal to impersonate a woman.

Fa'afafine describes a cultural tradition in Samoa in which males are brought up and live their lives as females.

Under the new Crimes Act which came into force last week the crime of impersonating a woman has been scrapped.

To'oto'oali'i Roger Stanley told Annell Husband that's brought huge relief, despite the fact that that section of the Crimes Ordinance 1961 had not been enforced for decades.

STANLEY: You never know, but it could have been enforced, who knows? It might be down the line someone else, from our future leaders and our politicians, someone else could always fix it up and say to enforce that. So I'm so glad it's not been removed.

HUSBAND: So is the fa'afafine community anticipating that this change will lead to other liberalisation of laws?

STANLEY: One of the things that we have, but it's not been successful is the one with sodomy.

HUSBAND: So what's the law around that at the moment?

STANLEY: That still remains. And I think we're happy with it, because the sodomy, it's basically penetrating of, you know... It affects women, as well. They get raped and they get penetrated by the anus, which is the true definition of sodomy, I think that one still remains.

HUSBAND: OK. So that is not something that the fa'afafine community is going to be agitating about?

STANLEY: Yes, yes. You're right.

HUSBAND: You're happy with that, the way it stands, as being illegal? As you say, this was not really something that was enforced, so it wasn't a huge concern, but it is good to know that it's not illegal anymore. Is there any sort of celebration taking place or anything like that?

STANLEY: (LAUGHS) Yeah, but I think because I mentioned that in my own Facebook page, I was calling out for everyone to celebrate. But, no, we're not doing a major celebration at the moment in the country, but we are having an event coming up at the end of the month, it's called a Fa'afafine Forum, talking about our health issues. It's an initiative of the Ministry of Health. So we're going to talk on everything on everything about our spirit, mind and body and also our normal charity events, which are Miss Drag Queen, Miss Fa'afafine on the 1st of June this year, doing our independent celebrations. And also I would just like to say to all the gay activists out there that although we are pushing for our own issues here in our own country, that doesn't mean we're against gay marriage and all that. We are our their friends, we are their families, they are our friends and our families. We do support them all the way. But it is not our priority at this moment.