26 Aug 2015

Bishop calls for talks over Cook Islands homosexuality law

8:25 am on 26 August 2015

A Cook Islands religious leader says widespread discussion is needed before any decision is made on decriminalising homosexuality.

Te Tiare Association, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, plans to draft an amendment to repeal laws that criminalise homosexuality within a year.

But the chairman of the Religious Advisory Council and bishop of the Apostolic Church in Rarotonga, Tutai Pere, says there has to be a consensus.

"That has to come from a three party position involving the three pillars of the Cook Islands, which is the goverment, the traditional leaders, and the religious advisory council all together can deliberate over and make decision on it."

Tutai Pere says homosexuality has always been the norm and there is relatively little conflict between people of various sexualities.

The recent launch of the United Nations Pacific free and equal campaign to end transphobia and homophobia has reignited calls in the Cook Islands to change the law.

But the Prime Minister, Henry Puna, has said that same-sex marriage is not an issue in the country, and it shouldn't just follow what the UN or international community is doing, which sparked a flurry of debate.