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
“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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