Last edited: July 11, 2004

Tongan Minister Says Paper Banned Because of Gay Claims

New Zealand Herald, March 28, 2003
PO Box 32, Auckland, New Zealand
Fax: +64-9-373-6421

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 revealed yesterday.

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 unlawful activity.”

Judgment has been reserved to an unspecified date.

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