Outcry over slaying of openly gay man in Papua New Guinea

Harry Peter of Alotau, Papua New Guinea. (Photo courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Harry Peter of Alotau, Papua New Guinea. (Photo courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

LGBTI community members in Papua New Guinea are seeking a thorough police investigation of the death of openly gay man who allegedly was killed by a relative.

Harry Peter of Alotau was killed on Oct. 2 after being confronted by a family member for “not being proper,” Radio Australia reported.

“The family member brought another member of his extended family into the dispute and in the end, Harry was bashed over the head … and he bled to death,” said Tharani Rengessamy of New Guinea.

“Harry was a kind, compassionate man who had a positive influence on society, and he was killed because he was gay,” she said. “People couldn’t accept the fact that Harry was gay.”

Under Papua New Guinea law, same-sex intimacy between men is punishable by between three and 14 years in prison.

Map and location of Papua New Guinea, north of Autralia. (Map courtesy of Historia con Mapas)
Map and location of Papua New Guinea, north of Australia. (Map courtesy of Historia con Mapas)

Rengessamy said Harry Peter’s murder had split the residents of Alotau in southeastern Papua New Guinea.

“You’ve got the community that’s accepted the gay community, and you’ve got the community that is very happy of Harry’s death because they believe that the gay community is a disgrace and should not actually exist,” she said.

The police investigation of the death has stalled, she said.

“Basically everything is being swept under the rug and we’re being told it is a family problem and the state or police should not be involved,” she said.

A Papua New Guinea gay rights activist at a recent LGBTI Youth Forum in Sydney, Australia, said gay boys and men in Papua New Guinea typically face a lifetime of bullying, name-calling, and psychological trauma.

Sulique Waqa of the Fiji transgender movement Haus of Khameleon called for the Papua New Guinea government to protect the nation’s LGBTQI community.

“This is a pure hate crime, a crime that is committed against a person because of his sexual orientation,” she said.

For more information, read the full Radio Australia article “Papua New Guinea gay community mourns man allegedly killed by relative.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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