Tongan Minister Says Paper Banned Because of Gay Claims
Zealand Herald, March 28, 2003
PO Box 32, Auckland, New Zealand
Police Minister Clive Edwards has angrily told a court
that an independent newspaper had to be banned because it claimed the
kingdom’s leadership was engaged in homosexual activities, court papers
King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV last month banned all issues
of the newspaper Taimi ‘o Tonga (Times of Tonga), prohibiting any Tongan
from possessing a copy of future issues.
The kingdom claimed the newspaper was seditious and
advocated violence and disorder.
In a Supreme Court hearing brought on by the publishers,
Edwards appeared as a witness for the state.
“They are saying that the leaders of this country are
sodomites and poofters, that the leaders are sodomising each other . . .
without mentioning any names . . . which means that people might think that
any of the leaders could be doing that,” Edwards said.
He appeared to be referring to a humour column in the
newspaper and a cartoon that dealt with the widespread homosexual rumours.
The paper’s New Zealand lawyer, Dr Rodney Harrison, QC,
said there was nothing seditious in it, but pointed to Edwards’ evidence
that the kingdom defined sedition as criticism of the royal family or the
Government and advocacy of change in the way Tongans were governed.
Some of the articles, he said, stated robust views but
added: “There is not the slightest hint of incitement to popular unrest or
Judgment has been reserved to an unspecified date.