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Cook Islands becomes latest country to decriminalize homosexuality

MPs voted to repeal provision of 1969 law



Cook Islands Parliament (Screen capture via Cook Islands Parliament YouTube)

AVARUA, Cook Islands — Lawmakers in the Cook Islands on Friday approved a bill that decriminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations in the South Pacific country.

The Cook Islands News reported the Crimes (Sexual Offenses) Amendment Bill 2023 removes a provision of the Crimes Act 1969 that had punished homosexuality with up to five years in prison.

“On behalf of Pride Cook Islands, we congratulate our prime minister and his government for doing the right thing — Love is Love,” Pride Cook Islands President Karla Eggelton told the Cook Islands News after the vote. “Te Iti Tangata, hug the ones you love and now you can tell them they belong. We are one.” 

Prime Minister Mark Brown said “it is not the job of government to tell people what their seuality is.”

“We are a people of love and respect,” he said. “Today we have done our job as lawmakers. We have removed a discriminatory and unjust law that goes against our constitution and our values as a nation. We have done what is right and what is just. We are protecting our people.” 

UNAIDS Asia Pacific Regional Director Eamonn Murphy also praised the vote.

“Cook Islands’ latest move is part of a wave of global progress around removing laws that harm,” said Murphy in a press release. “It will inspire countries across the Pacific, Asia and the world to follow suit. Decriminalize, save lives.”