Decriminalizing Homosexuality In Cook Islands Does Not Affect Same-Sex Marriage

Amending Crimes Act only means homosexual conduct will not be against the law

By Rashneel Kumar 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Aug. 2, 2017) – The decriminalising of homosexuality in the draft Crimes Bill 2017 does not necessarily approve same sex marriage.

Solicitor General David James says the exclusion of parts of sections 154 and 155 of the Crimes Act 1969 in the new Bill merely means that they “will not lock up people for private conduct of that (homosexual) kind”.

The Crimes Bill 2017 drafted by the Crown Law Office with assistance from the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office does not include sections which currently state any “indecent act” between two men is punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment, and consensual sodomy is punishable with up to seven years.

James said he was not aware if there was anyone prosecuted in the Cook Islands for the “indecent act” under sections 154 and 155 of the Crimes Act 1969.

[PIR editor's note: On Aug. 2, 2017 Cook Islands News reported that 'A senior church minister says individuals who have made the “choice” to be part of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community should not be perceived or treated as criminals. ... But Tevai (Bobby) Matapo, who is also the president of the Religious Advisory Council, says such choices are in direct conflict with the authority of God’s word.']

“There needs to be a scientific inquiry done to find out this. As far as I am aware and I have also enquired among those working in the Crown Law, they are not aware of anyone who may have been charged for such offence,” he said.

“I doubt anyone would know if such charge was laid in the Cook Islands. It can be researched but there isn’t anything scientific available to us to confirm this.”

James said the changes in the new Bill were to modify the Crimes Act 1969 and make it suitable for the modern era.

He said the changes were about protecting the rights of people as enshrined in the constitution which promotes equality and liberty for all.

Cook Islands News
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