The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) welcomes Fiji's High Court decision to declare the nation’s sodomy law unconstitutional and to overturn the convictions of two gay men. IGLHRC’s Sangeeta Budhiraja, Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, has been closely monitoring and providing support to the case.
The court released Thomas McCoskar, a 55-year-old Australian, and Dhirendra Nadan, a 23-year-old Fijian, telling McCoskar he was free to leave Fiji and return home. McCoskar, a retired university professor from Australia, and Nadan were convicted of sodomy earlier this year and sentenced to two years in prison.
According to Peter Hacker, 365Gay.com’s Asia Bureau Chief, the trial judge described gay sex as "something so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit.'' Justice Gerald Winter said that the sodomy law - a holdover from British colonial rule - was inconsistent with the Fijian constitution and therefore invalid. “What the Constitution requires is that the law acknowledges difference, affirms dignity and allows equal respect to every citizen as they are,” his ruling said. “The State that embraces difference, dignity and equality does not encourage citizens without a sense of good or evil but rather creates a strong society built on tolerant relationships with a healthy regard for the rule of law. A country so founded will put sexual expression in private relationships into its proper perspective and allow citizens to define their own good moral sensibilities leaving the law to its duties of keeping sexual expression in check by protecting the vulnerable and penalizing the predator."
Published on August 26, 2005 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization