Gay rights gain support online in Cook Islands

​A number of Cook Islanders, living locally and overseas, have spoken out in support of decriminalising homosexuality in the Cook Islands.

The support comes following an article in CI News on Monday in which Prime Minister Henry Puna said he would not be following the United Nations’ ‘free and equal’ campaign.

Prime Minister Henry Puna first expressed opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage on April 28, 2013.

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in New Zealand, PM Puna said his government would not be following New Zealand's move.

He said the Cook Islands would not stray from its core values as a Christian nation, including its tradition of upholding the union of a man and a woman in the sight of God.

Puna affirmed his position on the subject last week in a press conference when he said the Cook Islands would not be buckling to pressures from the United Nations under their ‘free and equal’ campaign in the Pacific.

His comments have gained a lot of traction online, with a number of locals speaking out in support of equality and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community.

One person commented on the CI News Facebook page, saying a fair proportion of people in the Cook Islands are gay.

The person went on to write that marriage is not determined by religion as many think, but it is determined by consensual love of two people, regardless if they are of the same gender.

Another Facebook user wrote that PM Puna probably believed that by deferring the matter, the topic would die down and be forgotten about because his party had 'dealt with the matter'.

“I say to hell with that. We need to keep the momentum going, better yet, build on it. Get involved in rallies and your local LGBTI community groups - they are out there you just need to look for them.”

Danny Matheson wrote “LGBT people have been around since humans were created, if you quote the Bible, god created man in his image so therefore he created homosexual people as well.”

Debi Puati also commented saying the PM should say ‘it’s not an issue’ to the people who have wanted to give up on life because their families didn't accept them or who felt they couldn’t be true to themselves because of stigma and discrimination.

There were also comments in support of the Prime Minister.

William Numanga wrote: “I don’t have a problem with what the LGBT community does with their personal life and the choices they make. If they want rights and equality, that’s fine. I just don't want LGBT ideals to be imposed on us, especially in the schools.”

Nooroa Taua wrote that when the day came when the majority of the community vouched for legalising gay marriage, it should be considered.

“But for right now I'm sure we are not even close to that.

“In regards to the PM's response on the matter, I think that was a great response. He knows what he's talking about regarding this subject. We don't have to follow the rest of the world.”

Dee Torah said: “for the record, I am in no religion whatsoever but I am Biblically aware that this is an abomination”