Australia Lodges Protest over Gay Tourist’s Arrest in Fiji
April 15, 2005
By Peter Hacker Sydney, Australia Bureau
government Friday filed an official protest with the Fijian government over
the arrest and conviction of an Australian tourist on gay sex charges.
Maxwell McCoskar, a retired Australian university
professor who was on holiday in Fiji, was arrested with a local man, Dhirendra
Nadan as they had sex in a home rented by McCoskar. Police had been summoned
by a suspicious neighbor.
Last week McCoskar and Dhirendra were each sentenced to
two years in prison. The men have appealed their sentences and are out on bail
but McCoskar has been ordered not to leave the island.
In its official complaint to the Fijian government
Australia says authorities in Fiji did not advise the Australian High
Commission of McCosker’s arrest and trial, effectively denying him consular
access—a violation of international law.
“We are concerned this may have prejudiced Mr
McCosker’s rights in the trial, in particular his right to legal
representation,” a spokesperson for the Australian government said Friday.
“This will be a matter for Mr McCosker’s defense team
to take up in his appeal hearing.”
The government’s complaint also notes that neither man
was permitted to have a lawyer present at their trial.
McCosker has received consular assistance since his
conviction, the spokesperson said.
Both men now have lawyers. Their appeal says the
convictions were unconstitutional. Gay and lesbians have protections under
Fiji’s 1998 Constitution, but old former colonial laws banning gay sex
remain on the books. Those laws provide for sentences of up to 14 years for
Earlier this week, Fiji’s Prime Minister said he had no
intention of repealing the sodomy laws.
In a radio interview Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase said
that the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin and Fiji’s law
reflected that. He also accused the men of making pornography.
The sentences have drawn sharp criticism from
international human rights groups. On Monday Australian gays demonstrated in
front of the Fijian consulate in Sydney.
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