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
“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
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