More Top Stories

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Pride Cook Islands: ‘We have made history’

Saturday 15 April 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National


Pride Cook Islands: ‘We have made history’
Members of Pride Cook Islands with Prime Minister Mark Brown and Government MP Tingika Elikana outside Parliament following the passing of the Crimes (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill 2023 which, among other things, decriminalises homosexuality. DANIEL FISHER/23041501

The Crimes (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill 2023 was passed in Parliament on Friday.

Among other things, the Bill decriminalises homosexuality which under the Crimes Act 1969 was punishable by up to five years in jail.

After the passing of the Bill, Pride Cook Islands president Karla Eggelton said “we have made history”.

“On behalf of Pride Cook Islands, we congratulate our Prime Minister and his government for doing the right thing – Love is Love! Te Iti Tangata, hug the ones you love, and now you can tell them they belong. We are one,” Eggelton said.

Val Wichman, the president of the country’s first LGBTQ+ group Te Tiare Association, was also delighted about the Bill passing.

Read more: Historic day CI Parliament decriminalises homosexuality

“Ko Au, Ko Koe, Ko Tatou, we are United as one family, and one nation,” Wichman told Cook Islands News.

The Amendment Bill was supported by the Cook Islands Party led coalition government and Opposition leader Tina Browne. Cook Islands United Party leader Teariki Heather and Democratic Party MP Vaitoti Tupa opposed the Bill during the debate.

In Parliament, Prime Minister Mark Brown said “today is an exceptionally good day to be the Prime Minister”.

“The role of any government is to protect its people and their rights. We are the government of all our people and not just the government of some of our people. And as a government we must protect the rights of all of our people especially the minorities on our communities.

“It is not the job of government to tell people what their sexuality is. It is not the job of government to absolve sin. It is not the job of government to tell people how they can or cannot have sex. The government does not have a place in the bedrooms of our people.

“We are a free country. We have freedom of speech, we have freedom of expression, we have freedom to worship, we have the freedom to observe our Sabbath whether it be on Saturday or Sunday, we have freedom to start a business, we have freedom to work on Saturday or Sunday. We have freedom to love who we want to; we have freedom to be who we want to be. We all should have the right to live our lives free from discrimination.

“We are a people of love and respect. Today we have done our job as lawmakers. We have removed a discriminatory and unjust law that goes against our constitution and our values as a nation. We have done what is right and what is just. We are protecting our people.”

The Bills also removes marriage as a defence against rape, says PM Brown.

“Domestic violence and domestic sexual abuse against women or against men for that matter can no longer be accepted just because you are married. No more.”

PM Brown reiterated that the Bill would not impinge on anyone’s rights of religious expression.