Cook Islands LGBTI

The Cook Islands, a small South Pacific nation made up of 15 islands and 21,000 people could soon see dated religious based laws amended to decriminalise homosexuality.

Titled the Crimes Bill 2017, the proposed new legislation drafted by the nation’s government could see the removal of particular sections of the countries current Act originally instated in 1969 which outlawed “indecent acts” between two men and consensual sodomy.

The proposed Crimes Bill 2017, follows the Cook Islands Parliament establishing a committee to review public submissions relating to amending the current Crimes Act.

In response to the committee, one group to make a submission on proposed amendments was the Cook Islands’ only LGBTI organisation – the Te Tiare Association. A  group that has long advocated for the end of the criminalisation of homosexuality in the Cook Islands.

PrisonValentino Wichman who led the group’s submission has since called on the committee to make sure that there were no other parts of the new bill that would criminalise homosexuality.

“What people tend to forget is that there is a very real personal aspect to this argument of decriminalising homosexuality,” Wichman explained in his submission.

“Everyone has a family member or friend that is lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-sexual, and queer or intersex. There are real people affected behind this debate.”

Despite legislative progress being on the cards in the Cook Islands, Politicians and religious leaders have also been quick stop short at condoning homosexuality.

Cook Islands Parliament
Cook Islands Parliament

”If a person chooses to live a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyle, he or she is choosing a perversion of God’s good design,” claimed Tevai Matapo a senior church minister and the president of the Religious Advisory Council to Cook Islands News.

“The only hope for the abolition of the hatred and mistreatment of any group of people, including those engaged in sexual sin, is in submitting to God and being washed clean by Jesus Christ.”