Last edited: April 16, 2005

Australia Formally Protests over Fiji Gay Arrests UK, 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 and McCosker.

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.

[Home] [World] [Fiji]