LGBT people in the United States territory of American Samoa face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.

Same-sex sexual activity became legal in the territory in 1980, but same-sex couples are not eligible for the rights and benefits available to different-sex married couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

The first criminal law against sodomy was enacted in 1963. The law made sodomy illegal for gay male couples and straight couples, but did not address sex between lesbian couples.

In 1979, the legislature revised the criminal code so that consensual sodomy was no longer illegal, unless it involved public acts, prostitution, minors or people unable to give consent due to mental defect. The law took effect in 1980.

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in American Samoa since 1980.[1]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

The American Samoa Code Annotated does not specify the sex of the parties to a marriage, but refers to the age of "the male" and "the female". It prescribes the use of a form in which the parties identify the parents to whom they are related as "son" and as "daughter".[2]

Representative Sua Carl Schuster introduced legislation to ban same-sex marriage in 2003. He said he hoped to establish the territory's position clearly in order to avoid lawsuits like those in the mainland United States. Many supporters of the bill cited their Christian faith as their reason for supporting his proposal. The House Judiciary Committee voted against it and then the full Senate did as well.[3]

It is uncertain how Obergefell v. Hodges may apply to American Samoa as its citizens are U.S. nationals by birth and not citizens.[4] Talauega Eleasalo Ale, American Samoa's attorney general, said after the 2015 ruling that his office was "reviewing the decision to determine its applicability to American Samoa."[5][6]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1980)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1980)
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 marriages No (Pending) [7]
Recognition of same-sex couples No (Pending)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2011)
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSM allowed to donate blood No

See also


  1. ^ "Gay rights map: Notes on the data". BBC News. February 5, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ "American Samoa Code Annotated, Title 42, Chapter 01 - Marriage". American Samoa Bar Association. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ "American Samoa Senate rejects bill outlawing same sex marriages". Radio New Zealand International. March 20, 2003. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ Gonzales-Pagan, Omar. "No Same-Sex Couple Left Behind: SCOTUS Ruling for the Freedom to Marry Would Apply with Equal Force to U.S. Territories". Lambda Legal. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "American Samoa is lone US territory questioning gay marriage validity; no licenses sought". U.S. News and World Report. 10 July 2015. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Same-sex marriage: American Samoa may be the only territory in the US where the historic Supreme Court ruling does not apply". The Independent. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Sagapolutele, Fili. "gay marriage illegal in American Samoa". USNews. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015.