The Cook Islands last night decriminalised homosexuality, removing ‘indecent acts between males’ from the Crimes Act.
Previously, gay men risked up to five years in prison under the law. People allowing ‘indecent acts between males’ on their premises risked up to ten years jailtime.
However, the Pacific nation never enforced either law.
A spokesperson for the Cook Islands rainbow community told Radio New Zealand the reform has been a long time coming.
Pride Cook Islands
Karla Eggelton from Pride Cook Islands described the reform as a significant moment for the nation.
“We are so grateful for all the people and all the organisations throughout our community who have been working tirelessly to make this happen. This is big.
“And I think the message that we want to tell people is: hug your friend, hug your neighbour, hug your niece, hug your daughter, because now we are truly equal.”
Karla Eggleton said the reform reflected changes to society in the Cook Islands.
Politicians previously promised to decriminalise homosexuality in 2019 after public consultation. However, they then backtracked.
But all major parties promised to support the reform in the run-up to the 2022 general election.
PM: “a historical day”
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown described yesterday as a “historical day in Parliament” in a Facebook post.
“My Party has fulfilled its pledge to stomp out discrimination of the LGBT community in our society and to uphold our Constitutional commitments to human rights.
“Today we have decriminalised consensual sexual activity that involves people over the age of consent.”
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