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Hey everyone! UniQ has been quite busy lately. We had our AGM and now have a new Executive to take us through next year, but alas, you haven’t quite gotten rid of me yet! I’m not your Communications Officer next year, but I still have a few weeks to keep you all entertained and informed!
This week’s Salient, if you couldn’t tell, is the International edition, and I thought I might educate you enlightened scholars about where it is, or rather isn’t, legal to be a homosexual (or LGBT*). I know you might be thinking that making it illegal to be queer is an outrage and only some far off countries do this, but did you know that in many countries in Oceania, being queer is a crime?
New Zealand recently had its first year of legalised marriage equality for all. We legalised male/male sexual relationships in 1986, thank you former Labour MP Fran Wilde! Females were never criminalised.
There are 81 countries in the world where it is a crime to be queer in some capacity. 16 countries have allowed same-sex marriage; yay New Zealand!
Oceania has a few countries outlawing queer relations (mainly M/M): countries such as Palau, Nauru, Tonga and even Samoa are living in the Dark Ages with their laws against homosexuality, but the most shocking, in my opinion, is the Cook Islands. Why are they shocking? Every Cook Island citizen is a New Zealand citizen, so that means that for a whole bunch of New Zealand citizens, being gay in their home country is a crime that could result in a prison sentence up to seven years. SEVEN!
Sure, their government has the independent right to choose, and our government has some sway, but you would think that, as the country that has responsibility in the way foreign policy and defence is managed, we would have some ability to create a place where basic human rights are respected.
Some of you might be thinking about how you control laws against queer people, because it’s not obvious if someone is LGBT* or not. Most of the laws are specifically about “consensual sodomy”, meaning sex rather than just ‘being’ a homosexual, but look at the ramifications of these laws. You can’t meet people in a gay bar who you could be attracted to, because any such place could be raided by the cops; you face discrimination and constant fear of being caught and imprisoned; you will probably end up marrying a woman who you don’t love, resulting in an unsatisfactory relationship.
A whole life that, with a little bit of freedom and basic human rights, could be so much happier and more prosperous.
Do what you will with this information, but I implore you to stay informed about queer rights and never ever let people’s humans rights be taken away or repressed. Even in modern society, there is discrimination, and it’s not as far from New Zealand as you might think.