2 Sep 2015

Tongan minister still wants CEDAW ratified

2:37 pm on 2 September 2015

Tonga's Minister for Internal Affairs says he's still hopeful a controversial women's rights convention will be ratified despite reports the government is dropping the issue.

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

Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva has told parliament that the government would not ratify the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW.

He expressed concern over how the issue had divided the country.

Earlier church leaders led opposition against CEDAW saying it would open the way for same-sex marriage and abortion.

Fe'ao Vakata says that's a misunderstanding.

Mr Vakata says the government is now delaying the process in an effort to provide more opportunity for consultation.

"I hope that after the consultations that people will be more understanding about CEDAW but I think we will still pursue the right purpose of the convention."

Mr Vakata says legislative changes could be looked at next year in order to hold a referendum over the matter.

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