Cook Islands defers decision on decriminalising gay sex

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10/01/2020

As a child, Sonya Apa Temata was surrounded by unconditional love. The human rights advocate’s mother, Tuakana Apa Temata, was her number one supporter: “Her acceptance of my sexual orientation and that of my two brothers allowed us to be who we are, and to love whom we wanted to be,” Sonya, who identifies as gender-diverse and takataapui, said. Unfortunately, that love is not extended to Temata, who lives in Rarotonga, by her own government. On Wednesday, at a meeting of the Cook Islands Parliament, a report which was due to be presented regarding the future of the country’s Crimes Bill was deferred for three months. It represents a blow for activists and the Cook Islands’ rainbow population, who will have to wait that period out for any possible decision on removing homosexuality from criminal laws. Currently, it’s illegal for men to have sex with men in the Cook Islands, and punishable by a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment. Same-sex marriage is outlawed, and civil unions are not recognised.

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