Last edited: April 16, 2005

Fiji Prime Minister Tells Foreign Gays to Mind Own Business, April 13, 2005

By Newscenter Staff

SUVA—Fiji’s Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says foreign gays and international human rights groups should keep noses out of the country’s affairs.

Qarase said Wednesday that he has no intention of repealing a law that provides for sentences up to 14 years in prison for anyone convicted of committing homosexual acts.

The Fijian government has under intense pressure to get rid of the law after an Australian tourist and a local man were sentenced to two years behind bars for having gay sex. The pair were released on bail this week as they await an appeal.

In a radio interview 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.

While they wait Thomas Maxwell McCoskar and Dhirendra Nadan have been ordered not to leave the country. McCoskar, a retired Australian university professor, was ordered to surrender his passport.  

Lawyers for the two men say 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.  

The lawyers say that that the constitutional protections that ban discrimination based on sexuality void the prohibition on gay sex.

McCoskar and Nadan were each sentenced to two years in prison last week.

In passing sentence, Magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah described their behavior as “something so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit.”

Their case has led to protests from local and international civil rights groups.

On Monday Australian gays demonstrated in front of the Fijian consulate in Sydney. The protesters called on the Australian government to become involved in the case.

US-based Human Rights Watch also has criticized the convictions saying they violate international principles.

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