Last edited: April 16, 2005

Tourist’s Arrest in Fiji Riles Gay Australians U.K., April 8, 2005

By Ben Townley

Gay rights groups are calling on the Australian government to ensure the release of a gay tourist who was arrested and jailed for having consensual sex with a man in Fiji.

The country’s Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL), along with well-known activist Rodney Croome, called on the country’s government to intervene in the case, which came to the world’s attention earlier this week.

Thomas Maxwell McCoskar, 55, was jailed for two years for having sex with Dhirendra Nadan, 23, while on holiday. Homosexuality is illegal in Fiji, but both men had pleaded for leniency, with Nadan threatening to kill himself if he was sent to prison.

However, Magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah said their “crimes” brought shame to the country and were “so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit.”

David Scamell, co-convener of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, told the Sydney Star Observer that the two jail sentences go against the pair’s human rights.

“Every human has the right to engage in private consensual sexual acts without fear of persecution or fear of being convicted as a criminal,” he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Croome told the newspaper that lesbian and gay people across Australia—and the globe—should be arguing for the men’s freedom.

“It’s absolutely vital the Australian government makes representations to the Fiji government immediately expressing its deep concern about what’s occurred and protesting the actions of the Fiji judiciary,” he said.

“If Australia wants to see itself as a leading proponent of human rights in the Asia-Pacific region, then it can’t let this outrage go unprotested.”

Australian government officials reportedly met with McCoskar in jail Thursday, although a release looks unlikely.

The judge ruling in the case had previously warned the Australian tourist that he should have been aware of the country’s laws before visiting.

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