10 Nov 2005

Fiji methodists banned from marching against homosexuality

9:13 am on 10 November 2005

Authorities in Fiji have refused an application by the Methodist Church for a permit to stage a protest march against homosexuality.

The Fiji Times reports that the commissioner central, Inoke Devo, rejected the application on the grounds that the proposed march would encourage discrimination and hatred against the gay community.

The Methodist Church had applied to hold a second march after one was held in Nausori earlier this year.

The director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, warned this week that the church could face prosecution if it insisted on a second march against homosexuality.

Dr Shameem had said that while the first march could count as freedom of expression, a second or third march would be seen as encouraging discrimination and therefore qualify as "hate speech."

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has welcomed the decision to reject the march permit, saying police were concerned about the crowd numbers in such marches.