Same-sex ban MP doubles down

Friday November 29, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Tingika Elikana. 18081629 Tingika Elikana. 18081629

Select committee chair Tingika Elikana has dug in his heels on reinstating same-sex relations as a crime, saying it should never have been taken out of the Crimes Act in the first place.

 

Elikana was speaking in New Zealand, where he yesterday met with same-sex equality champion Louisa Wall, a government MP there.

His words come after the Pride Cook Islands campaign launch, attended by nearly 200 people. It was an effort to put a spotlight on their urgent calls to change the country’s Crimes Act 1969 to decriminalise same-sex relations.

Elikana told Radio NZ the feedback in public consultations showed an overwhelming majority of Cook Islanders wanted to keep the provision outlawing homosexuality.

He criticised a decision by the former Solicitor-General, David James, to remove sections 154 and 155 of the Crimes Act 1969, which made sodomy and “indecent acts between men” offences carrying jail terms.

James told Cook Islands News at the time that the changes were about protecting the rights of all people, as enshrined in the Constitution.

However, Elikana yesterday rejected that decision, saying it was not their job.

"It is the job of the official is to make suggestions or recommendations to parliamentarians. But at the end of the day it is parliamentarians who will decide what's the provisions of the new bill will be or the new Crimes Act.”

Elikana said the main purpose of the review was to modernise the Cook Islands Crimes Act of 1969 so it covered things like cybercrime and human trafficking.

At the campaign launch, Te Tiare Association president Val Wichman told supporters: “We have mobilised and will not rest until the provisions that criminalise are taken out of the Crimes Act. Changing a law won’t change everything but it’s a start towards leading our own destinies and making the Cook Islands a great place to live in!”

“The fact is we still have people living in fear of being themselves as they feel that they won’t be accepted,” she continued.

“What people tend to forget is that there is a very real personal aspect to this argument. Everyone has a family member or friend that is LGBT+. We are real people with feelings, hopes and dreams.”

The report and recommendations from the special select committee on the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act will be submitted during the February sitting of Parliament. 

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