Samoa has long accepted homosexuality in the form of fa'afafine. This has traditionally meant being effeminite and submitting oneself to a life of domestic responsibility. What Rereverend Kolia really means when he says that homosexuality is a Western value is that he finds the notion of a homosexual person being equal to a heterosexual one foreign. In other words, the idea of a masculine homosexual man is viewed as abnormal and an affront to heterosexuals.
Picking up the story, today's Observer asks, "Should gays be banned?" The people they asked had the following to say:
I think they should. To allow gay relationships in Samoa is like turning our lives back to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Being gay is not right and not normal. It is against our religion and it's evil. It should be banned.
It is a sin and it will bring a curse to this country. We've got to stand up and be vocal about this issue.
It is a sin to be attracted to a person of the same sex and we should not allow it here. We've got to be very careful that our children do not grow up in that kind of environment.
I'd love to see the Observer run a follow-up question asking people if fa'afafine should be banned as well. I think it would be quite a revealing question to ask. In the meantime, I'll have to be content with continuing to ponder the subtleties surrounding these - at times contradictory - understandings of homosexuality.