Editorial: The law of unintended perversity

Saturday November 02, 2019 Written by Published in Editorials
Editorial: The law of unintended perversity

Sometimes, the law is an ass.

Parliament’s select committee has recommended MPs reinstate a criminal ban on “indecent acts” between men, and a ban on sodomy.

Go on, spot the perversity. And no, it’s not the sex acts.

The perversity is a Crimes Bill that – under the guise of modernising archaic sexual language – may now criminalise sex between two women, in the same way it also criminalises sex between two men.

You want equality in the eyes of the law? You got it, say the MPs of the select committee.

So much for modernising the statute books.

The MPs came under pressure from the churches, and they are right to listen respectfully to these leaders. But they are not right to unthinkingly acquiesce to church leaders’ demands.

Jesus drew a very clear distinction between our obligations to the Church, and our obligations to government. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

Those obligations will sometimes align: for instance, both the Bible and statute law prohibit theft and murder.

But where their paths separate is in the impingement of one person’s beliefs on another person’s freedoms. Yes, certain churches may discourage their members from any expression of their gay or lesbian identity.

But it is certainly not proper for the government to extend and impose those beliefs on all citizens, and to offer up the police as some sort of religious enforcement unit.

Cook Islands is, after all, a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

It is these human rights that protect us from racist abuse, from sexist discrimination, that enable us to go to whichever church we choose without fear of harassment.

We cannot deny others these same protections.

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