18 Nov 2005

Fiji Methodist Church retracts threat of clergyman over gay protest ban

2:20 pm on 18 November 2005

Fiji's Methodist Church is distancing itself from its earlier threat of a political backlash against the government in next year's general elections if they are not given a permit to march against gay sex.

The threat was made by a senior church official, the Reverend Iliesa Naivalu, who said the government was depriving church members of their constitutional rights and should be very careful of the 250,000 Methodists when the next election comes around.

But the general secretary of the church, the Reverend Ame Tugawe, has told Radio Legend that the views expressed by the Revered Naivalu are his personal ones and not those of the church.

The Methodist Church was instrumental in setting up the ruling SDL party after the Speight coup and the Rev Tugawe says the church will always support the government.

Meanwhile, the commissioner central, Inoke Devo, says he will not issue any more permits to hold public protests against gays and lesbians.

Mr Devo says Methodists have been given the chance to stage one march but any more would be illegal under the constitution because it would encourage discrimination against other members of the community.

He says the government cannot breach the rights of one community to uphold the rights of another.