As the world continues to cautiously re-open borders, and amid calls for the establishment of ‘travel bubbles’ between countries, some in New Zealand are voicing their concerns over the proposed bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

These concerns raised by human rights advocates, are due to laws set out in 1969 which criminalised homosexuality on the Cook Islands. This law followed from the Constitution of the Cook Islands which took effect on August 4, 1965, allowing them to become selfgoverning territory in free association with New Zealand.

Recently a petition was launched by previously serving Auckland Pride board member Sonya Apa Temata with the aim of attracting 5000 signatures.

 “It is important to acknowledge the historical influences & devastating impact of colonisation, early settlements by missionaries and its impact on indigenous knowledge and understandings of gender, sex and sexuality, and how this has shaped broad social attitudes and norms.”

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 Last year, Cook Island MP’s were set to announce amendments to the law that would have decriminalised homosexuality. However, it is understood, that politicians have bowed to pressure from churches, resulting in the retention of the anti-gay law. Currently the law only stipulates homosexuality as an act between two men, however reports are also surfacing that laws could be amended to also include gay women.

Pride Cook Islands’ President Te Tiare said recommendations of the select committee reviewing the Crimes Act are expected to go before Parliament in September.

“The rainbow community is an accepted part of our nation and this must be demonstrated legally. We are working to break down the barriers that separate us from others by spreading a message of love and acceptance for all,” Te Tiare told Cook Islands News.

Recommendations of the select committee reviewing the Crimes Act are expected to go before Parliament in September.

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