LGBT rights in Palau

LGBT rights in Palau
StatusLegal since 2014
MilitaryHas no military
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo
RestrictionsSame-sex marriage constitutionally banned

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Palau face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Palau since 23 July 2014, when the current Penal Code took effect,[1][2] but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. Same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned, and there are no anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2011, Palau signed the "joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" at the United Nations, condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.[3]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

After recommendations from other countries at the Universal Periodic Review in October 2011, the Palauan Government promised to fully decriminalise homosexuality.[4][5] In April 2014, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed into law the new Penal Code, which does not contain provisions outlawing consensual sex between people of the same sex.[6] The Penal Code took effect on 23 July 2014.

Previously, male same-sex sexual activity was illegal and punishable by up to ten years in prison; however, female same-sex activity was legal.[7]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Palau's Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The same-sex marriage ban was added to the Constitution in 2008. The ban was among the 22 amendments passed during the November 4, 2008 referendum.[8][9]

In recent times, there have been moves to repeal the constitution ban on same-sex marriage. In July 2019, in response to a question at a weekly press conference about his thoughts on the issue, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said he supports striking down the ban, saying he believes in full equality, branding it discriminatory, "Those who are different doesn't mean that they should be outcast, second class citizens, or that they can't contribute to the community. So I want to make it clear that I don't believe in the constitutional amendment that promote[s] discrimination. I want it to be on record that I support the rights of each individual, any Palauan, to be treated equally... Let us treat each other with respect and dignity. This won't be positive for us at the UN level as the trend worldwide is opening up to these individual rights, but we are taking a step backward." Remengesau finished his statements, with "as long as they believe in God like everyone else, we can treat each other with respect and dignity". Local activists applauded his comments, calling it a "very surprising and progressive act".[10][11][12][13]

Living conditions

Open displays of affection between same-sex partners may offend.[14]

In Palauan, the terms mengol a otaor (which literally translates to carrying a large driftwood) and menga tuu (banana eater) refer to homosexual men. They are considered derogatory.[15][16]

Several gay Palauans choose to emigrate to neighboring Guam or the United States due to societal rejection they may face at home.[15]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2014)
Equal age of consent (17) Yes (Since 2014)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
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 marriage No (Constitutional ban since 2008)
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


  1. ^ "Palau decriminalises sex between men". 15 October 2014. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017.
  2. ^ "New Penal Code takes effect". Island Times. 25 July 2014. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Over 80 Nations Support Statement at Human Rights Council on LGBT Rights » US Mission Geneva".
  4. ^ "Decriminalizing homosexuality step to genuine legal equality". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Palau". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  6. ^ Two tiny nations drop anti-gay laws: Palau and Sao Tome Erasing 76 Crimes
  7. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults Archived 2013-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "C2D - Centre for research on direct democracy". Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal » Blog Archive » The Rights and Liberties of the Palau Constitution by Kevin Bennardo". Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  10. ^ Kambes Kesolei, Ongerung (24 July 2019). "Palau's leader backs same-sex marriage". Pacific Note.
  11. ^ Power, Shannon (25 July 2019). "Palau president supports same-sex marriage, but there's a catch". Gay Star News.
  12. ^ Srinivasan, Prianka (29 July 2019). "Palau President's comments on same-sex marriage welcomned, says LGBTQ advocate". Pacific Beat.
  13. ^ Potts, Andrew (26 July 2019). "Palau's President Wants To End Constitutional Ban On Same-Sex Marriage". Star Observer.
  14. ^ "Palau travel advice - GOV.UK". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  15. ^ a b Ngoriakl, Joleen (26 June 2015). "Let #LoveWin Palau". A Medium Corporation.
  16. ^ Palauan-English, M
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