Men Behaving Badly: Sodomy Cases in the Colonial Courts of Papua New Guinea

Christine Stewart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In the period immediately before Papua New Guinea's Independence in 1975, several cases of sodomy, ostensibly taking place between consenting adult men in private, came before the formal courts. The Criminal Code of the time criminalised sex between consenting males aged over 14 in private; both the perpetrator and the permitter were equally guilty. The law at the time took little account of customary beliefs and practices; it was administered and adjudicated by expatriate lawyers and judges who brought their own prejudices and assumptions to their work. Drawing upon several case files located in the Papua New Guinea National Archives, this paper examines how such incidents were treated by the colonial courts, to determine whether the law was in fact appropriate in the circumstances of the Territory, and whether or not it was appropriately applied.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-93
    JournalJournal of Pacific History
    Issue number1 (June)
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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