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February 28, 2021
News Pacific

Homosexuality still not an issue on Cook Islands PM’s Agenda

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By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online 

Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, still doesn’t have the issue on his agenda despite the growing movement to decriminalise homosexuality in the Cook Islands.

Asked whether the government would look at reassessing laws that criminalise homosexuality, Puna said it was not yet an issue for his government.

Asked what it would take to make it an issue, Puna said the media had been so busy getting stuck into him about “certain things,” he had not read anything about it since he got back from his visit to the New Zealand last Tuesday.

But in response to Puna, Te Tiare Association Secretary Valentino Wichman, said law reform was definitely an issue for the group supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Cook Islanders.

“It is an issue even if the Prime Minister doesn’t think it is,” said Wichman. “Maybe he doesn’t know anything about it, 90 per cent of people I talk to don’t know it is a criminal act.”

The Cook Islands Crimes Act 1969 specifies any sexual act between men is illegal, and can result in a prison sentence of up to five years. In New Zealand the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 legalised sex between men aged 16 and older, removing provisions of the Crimes act 1961.

In the meantime Wichman said the group was taking a step-by-step approach to public consultation before making a submission to the government to repeal the law.

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