Removing same-sex jail time would be ‘positive progress’

Tuesday November 26, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Louisa Wall. 19112516 Louisa Wall. 19112516

Decriminalising homosexuality would be a positive step towards a more inclusive and fair Cook Islands society, says the New Zealand High Commission.

 

New Zealand has commented for the first time on changes to the Cook Islands’ Crimes Act, mired in controversy over a select committee decision to reinstate criminal bans on same-sex relations and sodomy.

The High Commission commended the Crimes amendment bill as it had been introduced in 2017.  “We see this as a very positive progression for the Cook Islands, and an opportunity for the Cook Islands to contribute to a more inclusive and fair society.”

New Zealand has previously indicated that New Zealand citizenship comes with expectations that those citizens be treated fairly and equally.

The High Commission also acknowledged yesterday: “New Zealand recognises that it is for the Cook Islands as a self-governing country to determine its own legislation.”

The diplomatic statement comes as select committee chairman Tingika Elikana visits New Zealand and meets with New Zealand Government MP Louisa Wall, an architect of same-sex equality laws in that country.

Wall has public criticised the committee’s decision to reinstate a jail sentence for same-sex relations. She told Cook Islands News she hoped to discuss the issue with Crimes Bill select committee chairman Tingika Elikana when they meet today.

Wall hosted Elikana and other Pacific MPs, who are in New Zealand for a parliamentary forum, at her office in Auckland this week.

Wall is to be a guest at a Pride celebration in Rarotonga next month, and said she was more than happy to support Te Tiare Association’s select committee submission arguing for equal treatment under the law and in accordance with the Constitution.

She has signed an online petition opposing criminalisation of homosexuality in the Cook Islands.

The same sex ban was an “archaic law” that needed to change to give the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex (LGBT+) community equal rights as others citizens of the country, Wall said.

“We need leaders of tomorrow to lead today. We can’t be living in the past, it’s time to move on,” she argued.

“The criminalising of homosexuality is directly linked to colonisation. This law has served to undermine whakapapa and whanau relationships and the criminalisation of our LGBT+ family members has led to discrimination, marginalisation, abuse and ongoing trauma.”

The select committee is now reconsidering its recommendations on the Crimes Bill after hearing a new submission from Te Tiare Association. The committee plans to report to Parliament by February, before Parliament’s MPs make the final decision on the law.

4 comments

  • Comment Link It is sad when people decide who is okay and who isnt. We are all perfect in Atuas eyes. I find it disappointing that Christs message to not judge isnt being honoured. Please be kind to one another as we are all family. Love one another as I have loved yo Saturday, 30 November 2019 21:31 posted by It is sad when people decide who is okay and who isnt. We are all perfect in Atuas eyes. I find it disappointing that Christs message to not judge isnt being honoured. Please be kind to one another as we are all family. Love one another as I have loved yo

    Message

  • Comment Link Terresa Aretere Andrews Wednesday, 27 November 2019 08:04 posted by Terresa Aretere Andrews

    Thank you so much Louisa Wall for your tautoko in the kaupapa, I am the Cook Islands first transgender & to have a sexchange in 1976, in my 60s, and hearing this outrages invalid condemnation by some selected committee without lived experience and have never gone through discrimination like I did. It surely hurts and hits the core essence of my being and my teinas' I have been a leader and a contributor to the people of the Cook Islands, I will be in Rarotonga tomorrow morning and intends to support my teinas' in their fight towards democrocy. I am going to stand by them and push some barriers to let my people know that we have a right to live amongst society and will be treated with equity in the Cook Islands. Human Rights Act 1993 must be acknowledged and is the positive way forward, aroha nui.

  • Comment Link Louisa Wall Wednesday, 27 November 2019 07:45 posted by Louisa Wall

    Apologies for my previous comment. I misread the article as it was read in conjunction with other comments about my being a champion of same sex marriage in NZ.

    Louisa

  • Comment Link Louisa Wall Wednesday, 27 November 2019 07:29 posted by Louisa Wall

    To the Editor, I made no comment about marriage equality for the Cook Islands.

    I said quite clearly that criminalizing homosexuality was an archaic law.

    I am not advocating marriage equality for Rarotonga. That was not in my submission.

    Please issue a correction ASAP.

    It should state - Criminalising homosexuality was an “archaic law” that needed to change... not what has been attributed below.

    The same sex ban was an “archaic law” that needed to change to give the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, intersex (LGBT+) community equal rights as others citizens of the country, Wall said.

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