Last edited: April 16, 2005

Jailed Gay Sex Pair Bailed in Fiji

The Australian, April 12, 2005

By Peter Williams in Auckland

AN Australian tourist and a Fijian man jailed for homosexual acts in Fiji were freed on bail today after appealing their convictions.

The Lautoka High Court granted bail to Thomas Maxwell McCoskar and Dhirendra Nadan, who were given two-year prison sentences last week in a judgment criticised by human rights groups.

Lawyers for the pair, who were unrepresented at their trial, argue their convictions are unconstitutional and the judge who made them was prejudiced.

In sentencing McCoskar, 55, and Nadan, 23, last week, Nadi magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah described their having sex together as “shameful” and “disgusting”.

McCoskar, 55, a retired teacher from Victoria, surrendered his passport as part of the bail conditions and faced an eight- to 10-week legal process in Fiji, his lawyer Iqbal Khan said.

Iqbal said Fiji’s 1998 Constitution outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and enshrining a right to privacy overrode the country’s law against gay sex, which carries a maximum 14-year sentence.

“Without any doubt there has been a miscarriage of justice, in my opinion, by virtue of the Fiji Constitution and international human rights conventions,” he said.

“The police should not have charged him.”

The lawyer said the Nadi magistrate’s comments were not relevant to charges against the pair and would form part of the appeal.

“His comments show that he was prejudiced in sentencing the men and giving a harsher punishment,” he said.

The magistrates court heard last week that McCoskar met Nadan while on holiday in Nadi over Easter and offered to pay him for sex and taking nude pictures that McCoskar planned to post on the internet.

The pair were charged after McCoskar complained to police on April 3 that Nadan had stolen $F1,500 from him.

Iqbal said McCoskar’s mood had improved greatly after being bailed.

“He was really upset and he was disillusioned but today his face changes, he looks happy.”

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