Law: Samoa

You are subject to the local laws of Samoa, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can’t get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research the laws for Samoa before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for the possession and use of illegal drugs, including cannabis, may include a prison sentence. Possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal. Suspected drug offenders can expect to be held in custody while the police investigation is underway. See our Drugs page.

Be aware that some countries, including Samoa may have restrictions on free speech, political expression and advocacy on human rights issues. Research your destination, including Smartraveller advice (travel advice) and consider carefully whether there are any restrictions in place that could affect your ability to make statements on social and political issues that could lead to legal consequences.

Be social safely

According to Smartraveller, travellers should be aware that even with the occurrence of men cross-dressing and behaving in a feminine manner within traditional Samoan culture, homosexual acts are illegal in Samoa and penalties include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page – this online resource goes into great detail about expectations, taking care of yourself and having a realistic outlook about being safe. In other words, the Samoan laws aren’t necessarily the same as in Australia.

For an interesting view about visiting places where sexual diversity is condoned, visit this blog.

Tips for social safety

  • Speak to other LGBTI travellers or the local LGBTI community about the safest locations for social activities.
  • Don’t drink to excess or take drugs that might make you more vulnerable or impair your decision making.
  • Be aware of what you’re posting on social media and through smartphone dating apps – you might like to increase your privacy settings while you’re travelling.
  • Be wary of new found ‘friends’, particularly those met through online forums or smartphone dating apps, as criminals may seek to exploit you or cause you harm as a result of your sexuality.
  • Never leave your drink unattended or in the care of a stranger or new friend. Drink-spiking is common around the world.

Avoid unwanted attention

  • Recognise that sometimes there are benefits in adopting a low profile, particularly in more conservative countries or rural areas as you may become the focus of unwanted attention due to your sexual identity.
  • Ignore unwelcome attention or remarks about sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status and if harassed, maintain your composure and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible by moving to a safe, public location.
  • Consider avoiding public displays of affection.
  • Dress appropriately. This may involve wearing conservative clothing or for women to cover their head or shoulders in certain locations. Our country-specific travel advisories will usually note countries where conservative dress standards apply, or where women are legally required to wear certain clothing. In some places, consider dressing more like the locals.

Look after your health

  • In some countries, supplies of contraceptives – including condoms – can be unreliable or unavailable, so it may be best to purchase in advance.
  • When travelling with prescription medications, be sure to leave them in their original packaging and travel with a letter from your doctor authorising their use.
  • Be aware that the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is much higher in some countries than in Australia.
  • If you are travelling and become ill, get to a health facility quickly, as your capacity to do so may diminish with time.
  • You can find more information about staying healthy overseas on the Smartraveller’s health pages.
smartraveller.gov.au. 2016. Samoa. [ONLINE] Available at: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/samoa  [Accessed 22 March. 16]
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