3 Oct 2006

Fiji minister says gay project is against indigenous culture

5:48 pm on 3 October 2006

The Fiji government says two New Zealanders planning to develop a gay resort in the Yasawa Islands have ignored the culture of the indigenous people.

The government has launched an investigation following claims that officials from the Native Lands Trust Board were bribed to issue a lease for the project.

Indigenous landowners in the group are outraged over advertisements for the resort which have appeared on a website devoted to homosexuals.

Emails obtained by Radio New Zealand International allege one of the New Zealanders bribed two senior NLTB managers to interpret the law the way he wanted.

The Minister for Tourism, Tom Vuetilivoni says the values of the local landowners must be respected.

"It's being set up in the outlying island which is very much traditional and I think one should respect the values and the culture of the owners."

The Methodist Church is considering staging a protest march after discovering that another gay retreat already operates in the country.

Fiji's constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual preference but the penal code makes sex acts between men illegal.