Last edited: April 16, 2005

Australian Jailed in Fiji for Gay Sex

The Sydney Morning Herald, April 6, 2005

(AAP)—A Fiji court has jailed an Australian tourist for two years for what the judge called a “shameful” and “disgusting” homosexual act.

Retired university lecturer Thomas Maxwell McCoskar, 55, and a Fijian man had pleaded guilty to having sex in the city of Nadi over the Easter period and asked the court for leniency, the Fiji Times reported.

Gay sex is illegal in Fiji, a nation of conservative Christian values, and carries a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

In sentencing the pair on Tuesday, Magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah said the crimes committed by McCoskar, from Victoria, and Dhirendra Nandan, 23, were “something so disgusting that it would make any person vomit”.

Shah said McCoskar’s actions bordered on paedophilia.

“If you wanted to have fun, you should have stayed in Australia instead of trying to come to Fiji and exploit our young boys,” he said.

“With you being a former lecturer, you should have known that such indecent acts are illegal.”

The newspaper reported that the pair told the court there was nothing wrong with what they did and Nandan threatened to commit suicide if jailed.

But Shah told Nandan he should have thought of the “shamefulness of the crime” before associating with McCoskar.

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) in Australia said jailing the pair for what was a consensual act between adults was a violation of basic human rights.

“We’re also concerned that a lot of Australians who go travelling to places such as Fiji wouldn’t actually be aware of the disparities between laws in our countries,” GLRL co-convenor Julie McConnell said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not mention in its travel advisory for Fiji that homosexuality is a crime in that country, but reminds travellers they are subject to local laws.

Lonely Planet’s South Pacific travel guidebook says gay sex is technically illegal in many Pacific island countries but the laws are rarely enforced.

Regional gay lobby groups plan to hold a forum in New Zealand later this year to discuss, among other things, reform of anti-homosexual laws in Pacific nations.

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