Last edited: April 16, 2005

Australian Gov’t Urged to Intervene in Gay Tourist’s Arrest in Fiji, April 11, 2005

By Peter Hacker, Sydney, Australia Bureau

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—LGBT civil rights advocates demonstrated in front of the Fijian consulate in Sydney today protesting the jailing of a gay Australia tourist in Fiji.

Thomas Maxwell McCoskar, 55, was sentenced earlier this month to two years in prison for having gay sex with a local man.

McCoskar, a retired Australian university lecturer, told the court at his trial that he did not know it was illegal in Fiji to engage in gay sex.

The man with whom he was involved, Dhirendra Nadan, 23, was also ordered jailed for two years.

The men had been charged with “committing an unnatural offence” and “indecent behavior”.

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

But, Fiji’s anti-gay law may be in violation of its own constitution which guarantees civil rights for all. Lawyer Jon Apted predicted an appeal would be launched challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The severity of the sentence has angered Australian gays. Among the protesters at today’s demonstration was Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle.

“We are calling on both the Fijian government and the Australian government to do something about repealing anti-gay laws in Fiji,” Nettle said.

She also called on the Australian government to take steps to have McCoskar brought back to Australia to serve out his sentence if an appeal failed.

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