Last edited: April 16, 2005

Call to Set Free Jailed Homosexuals

Fiji Times, April 11, 2005

LOBBY groups in Australia and New Zealand have called for the release of Australian Thomas Maxwell McCoskar, 55, and Dhirendra Nandan, 23, who were jailed for two years each for engaging in consensual sex.

Australian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender activist Rodney Croome along with the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has called for the Australian Government’s intervention seeking the duo’s release.

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

He said it was an outrage anti-gay criminal laws were still being enforced exactly 11 years after a landmark ruling saw Tasmanian

laws similar to those in Fiji condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

“Eleven years after they supported the removal of Tasmania’s anti-gay laws, Prime Minister John Howard, and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer must condemn both the jailing of an Australian in Fiji for consensual sex, and the archaic laws under which that man has been jailed,” Mr Croome said.

“It must be made crystal clear to the Fiji Government that what it has done is barbaric and will not be accepted by nations with a commitment to tolerance and human rights.”

In New Zealand, OUT! Magazine is lobbying New Zealand Members of Parliament to bring pressure on the Fijian Government.

“New Zealand back in the eighties was able to step forward, but Fiji, a very close neighbour to us has not,” magazine editor Warren Chapman-Taylor said in an open letter to the MPs.

“The pressure needs to brought upon the Fijian Government to reverse the convictions of these two men and make immediate law changes to protect the freedom and rights of the Fijian gay and lesbian community, and of the many gay tourists who travel to Fiji for their holidays or those who go there for work commitments.”

Women’s Action for Change Co-ordinator Noelene Nabulivou said the men should be charged if what they were doing included sex trafficking or trafficking in pornography.

“Heterosexual or otherwise. Let them be charged with specific offences if that is the case,” Ms Nabulivou said.

“But respect the human rights of gay men in Fiji and respect the Fiji Bill of Rights in our Constitution, which protects them.

“We have seen in the past in Fiji what happens when the rule of law is vague or misinterpreted or skewed through sectional interests.”

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