Labour MP and LGBTQIA+ advocate Louisa Wall is calling on the Catholic church in New Zealand to support homosexual law reform in the Cook Islands.
Although a draft bill to decriminalise homosexuality was presented to the Cook Islands parliament, it was scrapped in 2019 due to pressure from the religious community.
Wall said Pope Francis' support for civil unions for same-sex couples had given Catholic leaders a clear mandate to accept the LGBT community as children of God.
"They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it," he said.
Wall, who also introduced the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in New Zealand in 2012, today told Morning Report because of the law there "remains a discrimination, violence, abuse of our community".
"It's not something people can easily advertise and be proud of," but that was changing now as more support groups came to life.
She said it was "illegal, criminal" to be LGBT out in the open in the Cook Islands.
"Historically, some of the religious doctrines about LGBT [are] that we're evil, we're the devil incarnate. So for him [Pope Francis] now to say we're children of God ... now gives a clear direction for religious leaders ... to decriminalise homosexuality.
"And in the Pacific, in addition to the Cooks we have Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu who have these archaic laws."
She said New Zealand had a responsibility to push for this law reform in the Cook Islands