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Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people are vulnerable to several social and legal challenges in Kiribati. The State Party criminalises consensual same-sex acts between men, through Section 153 that criminalises “buggery” between men, with a penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

In Kiribati, employment discrimination based on “sexual orientation” is prohibited under Article 107(2)(b) of the Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015, and this helps protect LBTI people from discrimination and stigma at the workplace. Transgender and intersex people do not have the right to legal recognition.

In 2016, Kiribati was one of two countries where consensual same-sex acts are criminalised (another one was Sri Lanka) that voted against dissolving the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on violence and discriminaiton based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The last State party report was submitted in 2019 (two reports were combined in one; the first one was due in 2005) and contained no LBTI specific information.

The CEDAW Committee has not provided any SOGIESC-focused recommendations to Kiribati. However, the List of Issues from July 2019 does bring up a question that is LBT-inclusive. It was to provide information on the measures taken or planned to amend the Constitution and adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination to guarantee substantive equality to women who face intersecting forms of discrimination, including LBT people. This question does not make a reference to intersex people.

The CEDAW Committee provided a few general recommendations to all women under the Convention, and therefore, can be read to include LBTI people.

One of these was to enforce the legal protection and mechanisms to stop the “exploitation of girls and young women in prostitution”; another was concern that abortion remains prohibited, and urged the State Party to legalise it and improve access of all women to sexual and reproductive health rights.