The Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) welcomes the intention of the Cook Islands Government to decriminalise same-sex relations in the country.
In a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald, Prime Minister Mark Brown said a review of the Crimes Act 1969 of the Cook Islands would be redrafted after the election in which there would be no mention made of homosexuality as a crime.
PSGDN Chief Executive Officer Isikeli Vulavou said while moves to repeal the anti-homosexuality law in the new Crimes Bill has been delayed multiple times, the announcement by the PM was a positive step towards realizing the human rights of the LGBTQI people in the Cook Islands.
"While this has been a long time coming, we look forward to some positive changes soon and we will continue to hold the Prime Minister accountable for his words and commitments," Vulavou said.
"I hope this is not just an election gimmick or a vote-buying exercise by the PM and his government. We, together with our partners in the Cook Islands and in the region will continue to follow through until the new changes are passed by Parliament."
Vulavou says it's unconstitutional and against universal practice to keep archaic laws that permit discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
"Human rights are universal. Everyone is entitled to the same rights, even the LGBTQI community."
While removing homosexuality from the Crimes Act has been an ongoing conversation in the Cook Islands for about 10 years, the CEO said the support from other political parties for the move to decriminalise same-sex relations in the country was encouraging.
"We extend our support to Prime Minister Brown and his Cabinet, and wish them well as they push through these new changes into law in the coming months, and we hope to celebrate this important milestone in due course.”
In the spirit of regionalism, Vulavou also called upon the governments of Kiribati, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu, who still criminalize sodomy and/or homosexuality, to repeal these harmful laws that legally prescribe punishments for consensual same-sex sexual relations, and follow the positive progress that Cook Islands was making.
“We want the Pacific to be truly safe, free and fully inclusive for LGBTQI people by 2050.”
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