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Cook Islands to hold first ever Pride Day

Pride Cook Islands spokesperson Karla Eggelton pictured right, with partner Lara Sadaraka

The Cook Islands will hold its first ever Pride Day later this month to raise visibility of the country’s LGBT+ community and celebrate the value of diversity and community inclusion.

Pride Day is organised  by Te Tiare Association, the body that represents the Cook Islands’ LGBT+ community. Te Tiare is leading the Pride Cook Islands campaign to end the ongoing criminalisation of same sex relationships.

The Friday 27 March event is open to all, say organisers. “Pride Day creates a rainbow-filled space for LGBT+ people to proudly come together with friends, family and supporters to enjoy a fabulous range of activities,” said Pride Cook Islands spokesperson Karla Eggelton.

The focus of Pride Day will be a free to all ages event held under the Domes at the National Auditorium in Rarotonga.

“We’ll have fun games, a sausage sizzle going, face painting, food stalls, music and dance performances. People will be able to connect with support and information from community groups and hear from leading figures in the Pride movement, including Te Tiare’s patron Lady Tuaine Marsters and president Valery Wichman,” said Karla Eggelton.

“Earlier in the day we’ll literally kick things off with a special ‘Shine Bright Like a Rainbow’ Cardio Combat class at the Domes, where everyone’s invited to dress in rainbow colours,” said Eggleton.  The class begins at 12noon and its $5 entry fee will be donated to Te Tiare Association.

Eggelton said Pride Day will help build public understanding and acceptance for the Rainbow community as a watershed moment in the nation’s human rights history draws closer.

Under current Cook Islands law same-sex activity is illegal. In November last year the Select Committee reviewing the law stated it wanted to retain the criminal ban. The matter is now expected to go before Parliament in June.

“Pride Day makes a positive public statement about visibility, inclusion and the value of diversity. We hope showing who we are will help break down barriers,” said Eggelton.

“Our country’s having an important conversation right now about decriminalising same sex relationships. Let’s not lose sight that ongoing discrimination impacts real people. We’re your family members, your friends, your workmates, neighbours and customers. We’re a part of everyday life and we’re proud of who we are. That’s why Pride Day is an event out in the open and open to all – so join us on the 27th!”

Pride Day Friday 27 March

  • 12noon: ‘Shine bright like a Rainbow’ Cardio Combat at the Domes
  • 4-7pm: Friendship, fun and food at the Domes, National Auditorium

A full Pride Day programme will be shared in the lead up to the event.

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