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30 November 2020

Opinion: Changing with the times

Monday 9 November 2020 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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Opinion: Changing with the times
Te Tiare Association (LGBTQ+) and Pride Cook Islands members and supporters have been working to raise awareness in the community and lobby for a change in the country's Crimes Act that bans same-sex relations. MELINA ETCHES / 20092531

"Globally, people of all walks of life are being accepted as integral members of society. In the Cook Islands we protect and promote criminals and those wanted by NZ police into Parliament over an honest, God loving, LBGT." writes columnist Ruta Tangiiau Mavé.

Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things about sex, let’s talk about sex…  I chose this catchy tune to open my first column in the Cook Islands News a year ago, so Happy Birthday me, for 52 weeks of writing.

I’m pretty chuffed, considering I was more foe than friend of the (former) editor, and because my views and opinions, to the ‘Letter to the Editor’, often provoked dialogue and subsequent replies, on what people think or feel. The subject wasn’t sex, it was the re-decision to criminalise same sex relations for males and adding females in the mix, so much for equality in our community.

Twelve months on and we’ve stood still in the same place, but the world’s not the same place. Saturday, we stopped holding our breath on America’s Presidential Election results. Favourite ‘Down Under’ past times that usually stop our nations, The Melbourne Cup, Bledisloe Cup, State of Origin paled in comparison of the anticipation as we, with 380+ million Americans waited for Pennsylvania’s count. Unlike the Queensland Reds, the Blue Democrats won.

Donald Trump’s unorthodox actions and reactions had created strong divisive groups across the country, his use of social media especially Twitter to make statements and comments like a teenager, became the norm. The Black Lives Matter protests brought out the call, All Lives Matter, his acerbic rhetoric like it or not, mobilised the nation to vote in more numbers than ever before, which culminated in ‘All Votes Matter’, proving democracy is alive and can work in diverse, disparate countries. Presidents aside, what I noted was a surge in hope for the little people to stand up, have a voice and become leaders in congress.

The success of several ‘first ever’ groundbreaking individuals starting with a female Vice President of colour, Kamala Harris, said “she may be the first but she won’t be the last” is the emerging theme of politics globally. America voted their first transgender, first black woman in Missouri, three women of colour in New Mexico, two are native American women. Two open gay black men in New York, including ‘The Squad’ four women Latino, Mexican, Muslim, LBGT mix, standing as Progressives, added two more women.

The question is why? What I see is a Trump effect rubbing off, that started with Barack Obama. Once the American people accepted something different like a black President then Trump’s leadership style, their minds opened to accepting other ‘types’ of leaders.  The incidences of LBGT winning roles as sheriff, mayor, judge over the forever conservative norm of a white middle class male is becoming the new beginning.

Even Jacinda Ardern’s leadership changed the view of women in politics when she took her baby to World Congress meetings, with her husband alongside in the caregiver role.  New Zealand’s recent election, results where the Reds, trumped the Blues, similarly show several LBGT male, female, local Maori and diverse individuals winning seats in Parliament, plus she appointed the first open gay Deputy PM.

In contrast with world trends, the Cook Islands are moving backwards from the progressive decision made to decriminalise same sex relations in 2017. If we change the law back, will children or partners of prominent politicians, government servants, business owners, teachers and tourist operators be arrested? Will NZ LBGT MP’s be welcome here?

Globally, people of all walks of life are being accepted as integral members of society. In the Cook Islands we protect and promote criminals and those wanted by NZ police into Parliament over an honest, God loving, LBGT.