A rainbow over Constitution Day

Saturday August 01, 2020 Written by Jonathan Milne and Melina Etches Published in Local
Te Tiare president Valery Wichman and patron Lady Tuaine Marsters. 20072434. Te Tiare president Valery Wichman and patron Lady Tuaine Marsters. 20072434.

“See us, hear us.” Last week Pride Cook Islands attracted a crowd of hundreds to Rarotonga Golf Course for a fundraiser; next week they will be more visible still.

Rainbow-clad supporters of the Pride campaign from every age and creed and walk of life will mass at the National Auditorium to mark Cook Islands Constitution Day.

The Cook Islands commemorates 55 years of self-governance on Tuesday, a milestone event to be celebrated by all Cook Islanders.

Te Tiare Association is calling for all supporters of equal human rights to join and attend the Constitution ceremony in solidarity with the rainbow community, who are calling for the decriminalisation of same sex relationships.

A Crimes Bill is currently before Parliament with the Parliamentary Select Committee to make recommendations to Parliament.

On Tuesday, the rainbow community, too, will respectfully celebrating 55 years of self-governance with the nation, at the public ceremony.

Te Tiare president Valery Wichman said the existing law criminalising homosexuality between males was inherited from New Zealand more than 50 years ago. New Zealand had progressed, but Cook Islands human rights were still under threat.

“Now, as we celebrate 55 years of self-governance, we also put to our Government and our country, the challenge for us too to move forward and write our own laws that suit and protect all of our people.

“You can’t deny that our rainbow community are our people … See us and hear us – as Cook Islanders we are honoured to be able to celebrate our self-governance too.”

Those wanting to sit in support with the rainbow community should meet outside USP Extension Centre by 9am Tuesday. Organisers of the Cook Islands Constitution Ceremony ask all guests to be seated in the Auditorium by 9.30am

“We are part of a great nation that has the opportunity in its hands to show just how great we are by making amazing changes in our Crimes Bill for equal human rights. Fifty-five years on this is our time now to make our own laws. Let’s do the right thing,” said Wichman.

“We are a part of our communities and we are carrying on our message of love, kindness and respect by showing up to celebrate our 55 years of self-governance.”

The Constitution Day action followed up on a Fore Pride Golf Ambrose tournament with 51 teams participating.

“It was an awesome event filled with love and happiness, it was a colourful affair on a beautiful day,” Wichman said.

“The sheer support that we had from the public and our members was tremendous.”

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