2 Sep 2015

Tonga government steps away from CEDAW ratification

9:32 am on 2 September 2015
Tongan women protest against the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, arguing it includes counter-culture clauses such as same sex marriage and abortion.

Tongan women protest against the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, arguing it includes counter-culture clauses such as same sex marriage and abortion. Photo: Broadcomfm Broadcasting / Facebook

The Tonga government has for now stepped away from its commitment to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Matangi Tonga reports the Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva told the Tongan parliament on Monday that the government would not ratify CEDAW.

Mr Pohiva has expressed concern over how the country has been divided over the issue of CEDAW, and said the government is stepping back from it to diffuse tensions in the community.

He says the government's approach to the contentious issue will be to introduce a Bill on Referendums to parliament, to make it possible for Tonga to hold a referendum on CEDAW.

The cabinet announced its intention to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women earlier this year.

Several petitions and protests followed the announcement with opponents in the staunchly religious kingdom expressing concern that it will allow same sex marriage and abortion.

Tonga is one of only seven countries, including the United States, which have not ratified the convention.