Australia Formally Protests over Fiji Gay Arrests
April 15, 2005
By Ben Townley
Australia has formally voiced its concern on the recent
arrest of a gay tourist in the Pacific island of Fiji.
The country’s government issued a note to Fiji about
the arrest of Thomas McCosker, who was sentenced to two years in jail for
having sex with local man Dhirendra Nadan.
The Australian High Commission says it is worried that
McCosker was not given access to consular advice, that Australian
representatives were not warned of the case and that no legal representation
was available during the trial.
Nadan and McCosker were released on bail last week, after
civil rights groups claimed the pair’s arrest violated Fiji’s
constitution, which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.
They said the original magistrate who sentenced them was
prejudiced because of homophobia; he had told the pair that their ‘crimes’
would “make any decent person vomit”.
However, speaking yesterday, the country’s Director of
Public Prosecution ruled that the ruling was correct and that while
constitutional protection was available to lesbian and gay people, because
homosexuality is still considered illegal the pair may not be protected.
Because McCosker was not given legal advice during the
first trial, Australian officials are hoping the jail-term will be dropped.
The intervention comes as civil rights groups and gay
activists continue to put pressure on the Fijian government to release Nadan
In response to the case earlier this week, the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its advice on Fiji, warning lesbian and
gay tourists of “complex” attitudes towards sexuality in the country.
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