LGBT rights in the Cook Islands
|LGBT rights in the Cook Islands|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Male illegal
|Up to 14 years imprisonment (not enforced)|
|No recognition of same-sex couples|
|Marriage Act limits marriage to man/woman|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Cook Islands may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Homosexuality is illegal for males in the Cook Islands, though female homosexual acts are legal. Same-sex marriage is outlawed.
Crimes Act 1969
Male homosexuality is illegal in the Cook Islands. Consensual male sodomy is punishable by up to seven years' imprisonment, while indecency between males is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment.
154. Indecency between males - (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who, bring a male,- (a) Indecently assaults any other male; or (b) Does any indecent act with or upon any other male; or (c) Induces or permits any other male to do any indecent act with or upon him. (2) No boy under the age of fifteen years shall be charged with committing or being a party to an offence against paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, unless the other male was under the age of twenty-one years. (3) It is not defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.
155. Sodomy - (1) Every one who commits sodomy is liable- (a) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a female, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years; (b) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a male, and at the time of the act that male is under the age of fifteen years and the offender is of over the age of twenty-one years, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years; (c) In any other case, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years. (2) This offence is complete upon penetration. (3) Where sodomy is committed on any person under the age of fifteen years he shall not be charged with being a party to that offence, but he may be charged with being a party to an offence against section 154 of this Act in say case to which that section is applicable. (4) It is no defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.
159. Keeping Place of resort for homosexual acts -Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years who- (a) Keeps or manages, or acts or assists in the management of, say premises used as a place of resort for the commission of indecent acts between males; or (b) Being the tenant, lessee, or occupier of any promises, knowingly permits the premises or any part thereof to be used as a place of resort for the commission of indecent acts between males; or (c) Being the lessor or landlord of any premises, or the agent of the lessor or landlord, lets the premises or any part thereof with the knowledge that the premises are to be used as a place of resort for the commission of indecent acts between males, or that dome part thereof is to be so used, or is wilfully a party to the continued use of the premises or any part thereof as a place of resort for the commission of such acts as aforesaid.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Same-sex marriage was outlawed by the Marriage Amendment Act 2000. The law was clarified in 2007 to state that "no person shall be permitted to marry another person who is of the same gender as him or herself," and to legislatively define the gender of transsexuals. On 28 April 2013, Prime Minister Henry Puna expressed opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Discrimination on the basis of "sexual preference" is prohibited in employment, according to Section 55(e) of the Employment Relations Act 2012, which entered into force on 1 July 2013. This makes the Cook Islands one of the few Pacific jurisdictions to have anti-discrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation.
The Cook Islands Christian Church is the largest religion on the islands, with more than half of the population claiming an affiliation to it. The Congregationalist church believes that homosexuality and cross-dressing are signs of immorality and this impacts both public attitudes as well as government's policy. The Cook Islands LGBT community feels the need to be discreet and travel advisories also urge visitors to be discreet and not to engage in public displays of affection.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||For male (Penalty: Up to 14 years imprisonment; not enforced) / For female|
|Equal age of consent||For male / For female|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Step-child adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military||New Zealand's responsibility|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- "Homosexuality World legal wrap up survey" (PDF). International Lesbian and Gay Association. 2006. Retrieved 209-07-14. Check date values in:
- Crimes Act 1969, section 155.
- Crimes Act 1969, section 154.
- Marriage Amendment Act 2000
- Marriage Amendment Act 2007
- Cook Islands PM rules out marriage equality
- No gay marriage in the Cook Islands, says prime minister
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Cook Islands Fact file
- Employment Relations Act 2012
- Information Cook Islands.