On July 1, 2001 Fiji experienced the murder of two prominent gay men: Red Cross Director, John Scott and his partner Gregory Scrivner. Articles 1-4 report that event.
July 3, 2001 – The Star, Java, Malaysia
Fiji Deaths may be due to homophobia
Wellington, NZ – Fiji’s Red Cross director and his male partner may have been murdered at the weekend because they were homosexuals, the sister of one of the victims told Radio New Zealand yesterday. Janice Giles said there was extreme homophobia at high levels in Fiji and John Scott, director of the local Red Cross who figured prominently when the prime minister and his government were held hostage by nationalist rebels in parliament for 56 days last year, feared for his life and believed the police would not protect him.
Giles is the sister of New Zealander Gregory Scrivner, 39, who with Scott, 53, was hacked to death in the bedroom of their home in the capital Suva on Sunday.
She said Scott was involved in trying to restore the constitution which was abandoned in the wake of the coup which ousted the multi-racial government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry in May last year. "John, among other members of the gay community, put submissions in wanting to keep the constitution because it was the only thing that protected their civil rights as homosexuals," she told Radio New Zealand. She speculated that what Scott saw at parliament during the hostage crisis had led to him being killed "to shut him up."
Earlier, the radio reported that Fiji police were investigating the case amid speculation Scott was due to give evidence against George Speight who led the coup and is awaiting trial on treason charges. During the crisis, Scott had almost daily contact with Chaudhry and his hostage colleagues, taking them food, mail, clothing and medicine. Giles said he had voiced a great deal of concern during the coup as to whether the police would protect them because of attitudes within senior police circles. She said the only enemies of the couple, who had been together for 22 years, would be homophobic or political.–dpa
July 5, 2001 – Fiji Live, The Daily Post
Gays live in fear
The gay community in Fiji is living in fear after the murder of Fiji Red Cross Director, John Scott. Mr Scott and his partner GregoryScrivner were brutally murdered at their Tamavua home on Sunday. Coordinator of the Sexual Minorities Project, Pita Sipeli said gay people are feeling insecure. "Initially the gay people were feeling insecure because a lot of people thought it was hate related," he said.
He said at the moment they are just waiting for police investigations since there is so much speculation. Mr Scott and Mr Scrivner were positive role models for gay people, he said.
"They were positive role models for gay people and they will be sadly missed," he said. "Mr Scott was very proud of who he was and he did not hide the fact that he was gay", he said.Meanwhile the Citizens Constitution Forum (CCF), executive director, Rev Akuila Yabaki said the death of Mr Scott has touched the lives of many people throughout Fiji and he will be remembered for the irreplaceable role he took as a go-between during the hostage crisis last year.
10 July, 2001 – Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney NSW, Australia
Family’s anger at police over child sex and drug claim
Family members of Fiji murder victims John Scott and Greg Scrivener are outraged police have suggested the pair were involved in child sex and drugs. Fiji Red Cross head Scott and his New Zealand-born partner Scrivener were hacked to death at their Suva home on July 1. After charging a 23-year-old man with both murders yesterday, Fijian police said they had found pornography and a "white powder", suspected to be cocaine, at the couple’s home.
Commissioner Isikia Savua said the accused, Apitia Kaisau, had admitted the murders, saying he had been "exploited" by the couple and had been involved in a sexual relationship with them since he was at school . Kaisau appeared in a Suva court yesterday but did not enter a plea. The case was adjourned until July 20 for a psychiatric report to be prepared. Mr Scrivener’s brother-in-law Tony Alvos of Tauranga said today the family was disgusted with the allegations. "They were together as a couple. I can’t imagine that (the police claims) being true. We just dispute that entirely", he said.
The family no longer trusted the police to investigate the matter properly and absolutely denied the pair used drugs. He said homophobia was rife in Fiji. "We have no faith in the entire justice system in Fiji. We believe that fear pervades at all levels of society in that country. "To my knowledge they didn’t use drugs at all. I just can’t imagine it being true. "Greg was with us in February this year for his mother’s 70th birthday. He stayed at home for probably 10 days and he wasn’t a drug addict at all," Mr Alvos told National Radio.
Family members regularly visited the pair in Fiji and said they had done a huge amount for the people there. As head of Red Cross in Fiji, Scott was an integral link to the outside world for hostages taken during last year’s coup. Scrivener had supported his work while running the Fijian arm of Alvos’ swimwear company, Expozay International. "Greg and John worked tirelessly for Fiji as a whole. In fact, when John was working for an oil company, he was earning quite a lot more than when he went to the Red Cross. "He chose to go to the Red Cross because it really suited his humanitarian side. They were a really unselfish couple that worked towards the good of humanity."
Alvos said the police claims made the families’ grief more profound. They were also angry that Scott’s and Scrivener’s good names had been tarnished. Police have sent blood and other forensic samples to another country for testing. Scrivener was buried in Tauranga yesterday and Scott is to be buried in Fiji today. Police suspect rage killing Police have arrested a man in connection with the brutal double murder of the former director general of the Fiji Red Cross John Scott and his lover Gregory Scrivner.
Apete Bauleka Vakananumi Kaisau, 23, appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court before Magistrate Aminiasi Katonivualiku yesterday on murder charges. Police believe he had an intense hatred for the couple, and could have killed them because of "the way they exploited, not only him but other youths to fulfil their desires." The revelation has opened up speculation of a sex scam. Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said the 23-year-old is a single man and unemployed of Colo-i-Suva and has admitted to killing the couple.
Mr Savua said the suspect is a former associate of the murdered duo. He has known them since high school. "And we believe he had an intense hatred for the way they exploited, not only him but other youths of Fiji to fulfil their desires," Mr Savua said. Kaisau told the court that he understood the charges. However, Wilisoni Kurusiqila from the Director of Public Prosecutions office said there is a need for a two week adjournment in order for a psychiatric evaluation of the accused and that Kaisau does not want a lawyer to represent him.
"These things need to be sorted out first," Mr Kurusiqila said yesterday. Mr Kurusiqila said that once sorted out then Kaisau will be able to give his plea. Mr Katonivualiku adjourned the case to Friday, July 20 in order for the accused to get a psychiatric evaluation. Mr Savua said police investigations now continue along the lines of what the accused has told them. He said that they have enough evidence to charge him and take him to court but there are other aspects that the police have to consider. He said that they will be questioning other youths and young men who can give them information. – The Daily Post
August 2, 2001 – Radio Australia Online
Police and the Media–How close is too close?
by James Panichi
The coverage of a recent double murder in Fiji has some media observers fearing the relationship between police and reporters has become too close for comfort. Crime reporters may pride themselves on establishing close relationships with police in an effort to obtain exclusive inside information for their stories, but where should the line be drawn? The concerns about the media’s relationship with Fiji’s police surfaced during investigations into the brutal murder of Fijian Red Cross Director John Scott, and his partner Gregory Scrivener, who were hacked to death on July 1.
When the man charged with the murders, 23-year-old Apete Kaisau appeared before a magistrate for the first time, the allegations levelled against him by investigators had already been reported extensively by the media. Police Commissioner Isikia Savua had previously told reporters that Mr Kaisau had been motivated by an intense hatred of Mr Scott, whom he had met while still a student. Mr Savua also said the alleged killer had been incensed by the way he and other young people had been exploited to fulfill the sexual desires of his two victims. Such statements by the Police Commissioner along with the prompt way in which these and other allegations were reported would have fallen foul of "contempt of court" laws in many Commonwealth countries.
According to Swasti Chand, the coordinator of Fiji’s independent Media Watch organisation, the media’s close relationship with authorities has led to unfair and even homophobic sentiments expressed by police being reported, often word for word. "We haven’t had a court case, nothing has been proved by the courts yet, [they are] just theories and rumours floating around," she says. "The stories are not balanced, they are not fair. I say the media in Fiji has to be blamed for this mess".
Police leaks: to report or not to report? Criticism of the media’s coverage extends to both the way the Police Commissioner’s statements were reported and the way the media used leaked information to paint a picture which could not be corroborated. Comments from police sources both named and un-named began to appear just days after the killings. When members of Mr Scrivener’s family in New Zealand suggested the events may have been linked to Mr Scott’s mediation work during last year’s coup, police were quick to rule out political motivation. Three days after the discovery of the bodies, Police Commissioner Mr Savua revealed that the men had been tortured and suggested the violence was linked to the victims’ lifestyle choices, saying "you must not forget that John Scott was a known homosexual."
Fijian media: responsible, not gullible Media operators in Fiji have rejected the accusations of bias and gullibility and say local journalists reported events more responsibly than many of their foreign counterparts. They point to a recent report by New Zealand’s 60 Minutes television current affairs program on the issue, which promised to reveal whether Scott and Scrivener were "saints or sinners" as evidence that the interest in allegations of sexual promiscuity transcends Fiji’s borders.
Richard Broadbridge, programming director at Fiji Television, says he is in no doubt that the issue was covered fairly. "Most of the information has come out officially through the Police Commissioner", Mr Broadbridge says. "But we’ve got our own little sources inside the police force, who a lot of our journalists are friends with. "Like any other media organisation, if there were any political motivation and there was proof, then we would report it. We are not here to protect our country’s image. We do news like any other [organisation] which upholds journalistic values overseas".
June 11, 2002 – The Age, Melbourne, Australia
Fijian gays vow to go to games despite growing resistance
by Matelita Ragogo SUVA
Members of Fiji’s homosexual community hope to compete at this year’s Gay Games in Australia but face a rising tide of government and church-led hostility at home.
The event’s organisers have offered at least 30 Fijians scholarships to attend the games as they strive to attract indigenous gays and lesbians and lift the participation rate of women to 50 per cent. "I particularly encourage indigenous women around the world to participate in the Gay Games, to come and share our unique cultures and achieve their personal best," one of the event’s organisers says in a promotional pamphlet. But despite the scholarship packages offering to pay for return air fares, accommodation and registration fees, Fiji’s homosexuals hoping to attend the games, many of whom are unemployed, are struggling to raise funds to pay for visas and other costs.
And they are not getting any help from anyone in Fiji, least of all the government and the churches, as they face the discrimination borne of religion and tradition. "There was absolutely no response from those we approached for assistance," Luisa Tora, who is hoping to attend the games with her partner, Sangeeta Singh, said. Tora, who is an executive of Women Action for Change/Sexual Minorities Project, said they had unsuccessfully approached many Fijian businesses and normal sports sponsors for help.
The fundamental barrier is that a majority of Fiji’s predominantly Christian population have never accepted gay and lesbian relationships, but a proposed new Family Law Bill has sparked even more conservative attitudes. The often passionate row has focused on whether to legalise homosexuality and, as an extension, whether to allow same sex marriages. Major church groups have led the campaign against the bill and the debate has fostered greater hostility towards homosexuals.
However Tora, Singh and the other hopeful games’ participants refuse to be defeated and have set about working together to get to Australia for the start of the event in November. "Considering the financial situations of most of the people who were offered scholarships, we have decided to raise funds collectively for the estimated visa costs and a fund which can then be equally distributed amongst participants to boost their living allowance provisions during the games," Tora said.
Many have set about getting part-time work, all the while dreaming of getting to the games, which will attract 12,500 people from across the globe to compete in 31 sports and participate in a range of cultural events, conferences and workshops. "Imagine the discussions that are going to be happening and the different things one can learn just from meeting new people from all over the world, Singh said. "I expect it to be as dynamic and electric as the Olympics." Indeed for Singh and other Pacific island lesbians and gays working to get to Australia, their gold medal will be just to live briefly in a world where their lives are celebrated rather than despised.
August 2, 2002 – Fiji Live (The Daily Post)
Marist students in court for gay bashing
Six Marist Brothers’ High School prefects appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday charged with assaulting two gay students at the school. The six students, whose names were not released because they are juveniles, each face two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. They pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Salote Kaimacuata. Prosecutor Armogam Gounder said the six students assaulted the two Form Four students.
In court yesterday, defence lawyer Peter Howard said the Fiji Human Rights Commission was promoting reconciliation among the parties. Mr Howard applied for a bail to be extended, saying the six prefects be ordered not to interfere with the two complainants and any other witnesses in the case. The prefects will reappear on August 19. School principal Susau Managreve declined to comment, referring all questions to the Ministry of Education. The charges follow a series of alleged abuse and assault on the two gay students for allegedly having sex with students in the school toilets.
April 25, 2003 – Fiji Daily Post, Suva, Fiji
Gays give churches the thumbs up
The homosexuals and lesbian community is pleased churches are now discussing issues of gay clergy, abortion, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in all countries. Minority community spokesperson and femLINK Pacific representative Peter Sipeli said these issues were taking a lead in building a society that cared for all people "and do not segregate or marginalise according to gender, sexual orientation, reproductive health issues and concerns for youths".
Sipeli was reacting to a report presented by one of the participating countries during the Methodist Consultative Council in the Pacific meeting about homosexuals and lesbians being looked at by churches whether or not they could be accepted in ordained ministries. This would mean these gays when accepted into ordained ministries, they could be ordained to become church ministers. "I believe that sexuality must be affirmed as an essential dimension of being human."
"We also have a responsibility to remind our congregation, our communities and our elected leaders that the teaching of the bible, as well as the teachings of other religious faiths views the body and the physical world as a sacred arena in which God acts, and so the practice of sexual diversity should be allowed and young people who face sexuality issues or issues related to sexual health should be provided proper information," Sipeli said.
July 2, 2004 – Fiji Times, Suva, Fiji
Rights to sexual minorities
by Mary Johns
Dike, gay, lesbian, pancake, poofter, qauri are common terms we hear. These terms or labels are used to differentiate sexual minorities in the country. Section 38 of the 1997 Constitution states that: "Every person has the right to equality before the law." A personal [?] must not be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on the ground of his of her actual or supposed personal characteristics or circumstance, including race, ethnic origin, colour, place of origin, gender, sexual orientation, birth, primary language, economic status, age or disability …"
This has not stopped members of the public from being prejudiced against sexual minorities. It is nothing unusual to hear discriminatory remarks, in fact, many homosexual people adapt to such remarks. According to the Women’s Action for Change sexual minorities project 2002 survey law, tradition and religion play a significant role in the propagation of homophobic attitudes in Fiji. The survey goes on to say that initially Fiji was one of only two countries in the world to constitutionally protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender (GLBTs) citizens. A pamphlet by the project highlighted that homophobia was the unreasonable fear and hatred of those who sexually desire those of the same sex, or those who are perceived to love and desire those of the same sex.
Many of us would rather turn a blind a eye and pretend that GLTBs do not exist in communities but if you dug deep into your family history, it is likely that you could find such a person who is or was related to you. We think of homosexual acts as unchristian and sometimes we despise them but do we realise that it is just as unchristian to judge?
It is high time we faced it – there are GLBTs in our community and each time we call them names, harass them or be violent toward them, we discriminate against them but more importantly we abuse their rights as human beings. On Monday, five youths will represent Fiji at the week-long OXFAM International Youth Parliament in Sydney. One of them is 21-year-old Maximillian Tagivetaua, a second-year student of Applied Psychology at the University of the South Pacific.
He will represent WAC at the IYP.
Max said his action was for the rights of sexual minorities. And no, Max is far from a homosexual. He is a heterosexual who believes that he has what it takes to help GLBTs. "A lot of these people need help," he said. "They face sexual, physical, verbal abuse and a lot of discrimination. "They do not choose to be gay; it’s a psychological thing." Max said he heard about the interview to represent WAC from a friend and decided to attend. "I went for an interview with Penny Moore and I had a lot of ideas. "Also, I have to do 40 hours of practical for the second semester and I decided to do it now. "I am offering my counselling skills where I can."
WAC creative director Penny Moore said they were pleased to have someone such as Max step up and take the challenge.
"He will be taking information on sexual minorities there (IYP) and he will also bring information that could be of help back home," she said. "It’s important that we give a voice to sexual minorities and give the small people a place in society. "When Max comes back we would like him to do other things for us such as his education, which could be useful to us."
Max said GLBTs should be treated as individuals. "People are discriminated against because of their sexuality and this should not be the case," he said. "Every gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender (GLBT) deserve to be treated as human beings.
"GLBTs are no less human beings than you and me heterosexual people. "If we feel and believe that how they live their life is morally wrong, let’s leave it to God, our Creator to be the judge of that." Max said the role of families was important in helping GLBTs feel that they were an important part of society. "The best we can do is to treat them with dignity and respect as we do heterosexuals," he said.
"I am advocating their rights as human beings, the need to be accepted unconditionally by their families, friends and society at large, regardless of their sexuality. "If families reject and disown their children because of their sexuality and because of the stigma attached to the type of lifestyle they live, who will these people turn to? "It is at times like this that families have to pull together to love and understand what a loved one is going through in terms of their sexuality."
Max said rejection could have a devastating effect on GLBTs. "Some of the consequences of being rejected include turning to prostitution for survival, theft and sometimes murder for survival, the high risk of HIV/AIDS, abuse of drugs and alcohol and the list goes on," he said. "The consequence does not only impact the discriminated person’s life but the whole of society, including the economy."Families, in particular parents, have to pay more attention to their children, understand them and listen to them more carefully. "Parents have to prepare themselves to accept the sexuality of their children."
Max said there were hate crimes committed against GLBTs. "In many countries around the world, GLBTs, who are regarded as sexual minorities, are tortured and even beaten to death," he said. "I don’t think anyone has a God-given right to take the life of another human being because of their lifestyle. "A good example that made headlines around the world in 1998 was the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, an American. "He was lured by two men from a Wyoming bar, driven to a remote spot outside town, robbed, beaten and left for dead. He died five days later.
"That is one of the thousands of incidents of hate crimes against GLBTs." Max said homophobia had a direct effect on GLBTs.
"There is the case of homophobia, which usually has a devastating effect on the lives of GLBTs who suffer discrimination and abuse in their families, at work or in other social spheres," he said. "When we start to understand these matters, hopefully, we will be able to accept a GLBT as a human being like you and me. "We need to be grateful to the WAC sexual minorities project for continuing the good work to promote awareness of the need to accept GLBTs in our society," he said.
Fiji PM says homosexuality a sin
Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has rejected international pressure to make gay sex legal in the conservative Christian nation, saying homosexuality is a sin. Human rights groups and the Australian Greens have criticised Fiji’s sodomy law after an Australian tourist and a Fiji man were given two-year jail sentences last week for having sex.
But Mr Qarase said the Bible clearly stated that homosexuality was a sin, and Fiji’s law reflected that. Local and international critics should respect Fiji’s law and not interfere in the country’s legal process, he told a radio station.
People should realise the convicted pair had also been making pornography, he said.
April 15, 2005 – Gay.com
Australia protests arrest of gay citizens in Fiji
Australia has formally voiced its concern about the recent arrest of a gay tourists in the Pacific island of Fiji. The country’s government issued a note to Fiji about the arrest of Thomas McCosker, who was sentenced to two years in jail for having sex with local man Dhirendra Nadan. The Australian High Commission says it is worried that McCosker was not given access to consular advice, that Australian representatives were not warned of the case and that no legal representation was available during the trial.
Nadan and McCosker were released on bail last week, after civil rights groups claimed the pair’s arrest violated Fiji’s constitution, which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation. They said the original magistrate who sentenced them was prejudiced because of homophobia; he had told the pair that their "crimes" would "make any decent person vomit."
However, speaking yesterday, the country’s Director of Public Prosecution ruled that the ruling was correct and that while constitutional protection was available to lesbian and gay people, the pair may not be protected because homosexuality is still considered illegal. Because McCosker was not given legal advice during the first trial, Australian officials are hoping the jail term will be dropped.
The intervention comes as civil rights groups and gay activists continue to put pressure on the Fijian government to release Nadan and McCosker. In response to the case earlier this week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its advice on Fiji, warning lesbian and gay tourists of "complex" attitudes toward sexuality in the country.
April 18, 2005 – CNSNews.com, Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com)
Pacific Island Nation Under Fire Over Sodomy Laws
by Patrick Goodenough
The government of Fiji is coming under growing pressure to change its laws after a court in the Pacific island nation jailed two men for having sex. Thomas McCoskar, a 55-year-old Australian tourist, and 23-year-old Fijian delivery man Dhirendra Nadan are out on bail and will appeal their convictions later this month. They were accused of having sex and taking photographs of one another while naked over a 10-day period in late March and early April.
Homosexual sexual activity is illegal in the former British colony, a situation defended by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on the basis of biblical teaching that sex between men is sinful. One article of the penal code outlaws "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" while another prohibits "any act of gross indecency" between two men, "whether in public or private."
The case has sparked protests in Fiji and Australia, and the New York-based Human Rights Watch said the convictions violated international human rights principles and Fiji’s own constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on "sexual orientation."
The Fiji Times quoted Qarase as saying other countries should not interfere with Fiji’s legal processes, while opposition parties argued that Fiji’s constitution should take precedence over any law inconsistent with it.
Australia protested to the Fijian government that its citizen was effectively denied consular assistance because the trial was held without Australian diplomats’ knowledge. McCoskar has received consular help since his conviction. Australian opposition parties accuse Canberra of not speaking out on the homosexuality aspect itself. " The government’s silence on this issue looks like a tacit endorsement of the discriminatory homophobic views of the Fijian prime minister and the magistrate who jailed these men," said Senator Kerry Nettle, a representative of the Green party.
Fifty-two percent of Fiji’s 880,000 people are Christians, with the majority Methodists. Along with sugar exports, tourism is the key earner of foreign exchange, but the government does not encourage "sex tourism" of the type associated with some Asia-Pacific holiday destinations. "Fijians are by nature modest people," advises Britain’s foreign and commonwealth office (FCO). "Topless bathing and nudity in public is forbidden." An FCO travel advisory updated in recent days noted McCoskar’s conviction. "Gay and lesbian travelers should note that Fijian attitudes towards homosexuality are complex," it said. "Despite examples of cross-dressing within the traditional Pacific culture, there can be aggressive outbursts against homosexuality. A further complication is that whilst the 1997 Constitution provides for sexual freedom and equality, primary legislation still exists which prohibits homosexual acts, even in private."
Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade says in a travel notice: "Australians are reminded that when overseas, they are subject to local laws … a violation of local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Homosexual acts are illegal in Fiji." The State Department’s travel information on Fiji does not refer specifically to the issue, but carries a generic warning: "While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law."
24 June, 2005 – Gay.com UK
Fiji’s gays see rising attacks
After the high-profile arrest and prosecution of a gay tourist earlier this year, Fiji’s gay citizens have seen a rise in attacks according to reports from local pressure groups. Gay men and sex workers on the holiday destination have apparently been at the brunt of a rise in homophobia, which many campaigners are linking with the arrests of Dhirendra Nadan and Thomas Maxwell McCoskar in April.
McCoskar, an Australian citizen, was jailed for having sex with local man Nadan, in a case that caused distress amongst international civil rights groups, who want foreign governments to intervene and for Fiji to update its laws regarding sexuality. The pair were jailed for two years, with the prosecutor saying their actions had made him sick. They are contesting the prosecution, claiming it goes against anti-discrimination laws.
According to the Fijilive website, campaigners in the country are warning of a rise in violence aimed at gay people.
Additionally, there has been an increase in verbal abuse, the Women’s Action for Change group told the website, with many victims fearful of revenge attacks if they report it to police. Since McCoskar and Nadan were arrested, lawyers have been working on the pair’s case. They are due to submit their appeal later this month. Elsewhere, the Australian government has formally protested the arrest of its citizen, while the Foreign Office has warned lesbian and gay British tourists visiting the island to take care.
August 26, 2005 – Reuters
Australian, Fijian acquitted of homosexual crime
Suva – An Australian and a Fijian man won appeals on Friday against their convictions for homosexuality in Fiji, with the South Pacific island nation’s High Court ruling homosexual acts in private were legal under the constitution. Thomas McCosker, 55, and Dhirendra Nadan, 23, had been sentenced to two years’ jail after earlier being found guilty of homosexuality in a Fijian hotel room in March and for creating pornography by filming the act.
High Court Judge Gerald Winter said privacy provisions of the Fijian constitution meant that homosexual acts between consenting males in private were not illegal, but homosexual acts in public or without consent were illegal, reported local media. ‘What the constitution requires is that the law acknowledges difference, affirms dignity and allows equal respect to every citizen as they are,’ Winter said in his judgment.
‘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 penalising the predator.’ The case sparked widespread debate about Fiji’s strict, but rarely enforced, homosexual laws, which carry a maximum 14-year jail term.
Australia has since added a warning to its travel advisory for Fiji about homosexuality being illegal. McCosker’s lawyer Natasha Khan said the ruling would have a big impact in Fiji, although she said state prosecutors have indicated they might appeal to Fiji’s Supreme Court. ‘It’s the not the all-encompassing victory we were looking for but it’s middle ground nonetheless,’ Khan told reporters.Gay sex acquitted heads home
1 September 2005 – Gay.com UK
Fiji protests gay rights
by Ben Townley
Following on from last week’s acquittal of a gay tourist who was caught having sex on the island, religious groups in Fiji are planning to protest against homosexuality and what they see as a growing acceptance of sexual diversity. The island’s Methodist Church says it may take to the streets to combat the growing relaxation of attitudes, in light of Thomas Maxwell McCosker’s arrest and release. Australian tourist McCosker was arrested for having sex with local man Dhirendra Nadan and was sentenced to imprisonment by a magistrate who said their relationship would “make any sane person vomit”.
Although homosexuality is illegal thanks to colonial-era legislation, the pair were acquitted last week thanks to recently introduced laws that protect lesbian and gay people from discrimination. Members of the Methodist Church will discuss the issue of protest and sexuality at their annual conference on the island later this month, according to the FijiLive news website. They say they want to clamp down on any relaxation of attitudes towards lesbian and gay people. However, they may be facing an uphill struggle: a senior figure in the country’s government has been the first to slam the persecution of lesbian and gay people.
Fiji’s Vice President Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi told reporters yesterday that gay couples should be given the freedom to do whatever they want. "Much has been said about homosexuality and the abhorrence with which it is regarded by many great religions," he said, according to press reports. "Whatever one’s views about it, those who choose to practise that lifestyle in private surely have a right to do so." McCosker made his way back to Australia at the weekend. However, his arrest sparked protests back home, with campaigners criticising western government for failing to offer suitable warnings to lesbian and gay travellers. In a study, the Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) said the UK, Australian and Canada governments needed to update its warnings to gay tourists.
09 November, 2005 – Radio New Zealand International
Fiji methodists banned from marching against homosexuality
Authorities in Fiji have refused an application by the Methodist Church for a permit to stage a protest march against homosexuality. The Fiji Times reports that the commissioner central, Inoke Devo, rejected the application on the grounds that the proposed march would encourage discrimination and hatred against the gay community.
The Methodist Church had applied to hold a second march after one was held in Nausori earlier this year. The director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, warned this week that the church could face prosecution if it insisted on a second march against homosexuality. Dr Shameem had said that while the first march could count as freedom of expression, a second or third march would be seen as encouraging discrimination and therefore qualify as "hate speech." The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has welcomed the decision to reject the march permit, saying police were concerned about the crowd numbers in such marches.
27 July 2006 – Fiji Times
19 more HIV/AIDS cases recorded: Fiji Centre for Communicable Disease Control
by Reijeli Kikau
Ninteen more people have been infected with HIV/AIDS in the past six months, taking the number of infected persons in the country to 219. According to the Fiji Centre for Communicable Disease Control, there were five patients infected with AIDS in this first quarter of the year and another 15 in the second quarter. The centre says out of the 19, nine were males and 10 females comprising 17 Fijians, one Indian and one Others. Out of the 19, there was one patient below nine years of age, one between 10 and 19, one between 20 and 29, nine between 30 and 39, three between 40 and 49, three between 50 and 59 and one unknown. The mode of transmission of the disease included 18 heterosexuals and one peri- transmission.
Curative Services Minister Doctor Gunasagaran Gounder said he was aware of the increase. Out of the 219 infected patients since 1989 there were 126 males and 93 females consisting of 183 Fijians, 27 Indians and nine others. The mode of transmission included 191 heterosexuals, seven homosexuals, one blood transmission, one IV drug, 19 peri-transmissions and three unknown cases. The age groups for the 219 infected persons included 16 below nine years, five between 10 and 19, 93 between 20 and 29, 70 between 30 and 39, 23 between 40 and 49, nine between 50 and 59, one 60-year-old and two unknown.
Last month Director of Public Health Doctor Timaima Tuiketei said HIV was no longer a health issue but had social, economic development and security components. " HIV infection trend has passed the slow burning stage over the last 10 years and is escalating," she said. She said Fijian males were mostly infected and there was a high incidence of sexually transmitted infections and high levels of high-risk sexual activity.
22 September 2006 – Fiji Times
Study on sexual habits of Fijian Men
by Ashwini Prasad
The lack of social controls has resulted in increased premarital sex, casual sex, multiple partners, homosexual behaviour and group sex, says a University of the South Pacific academic. Doctor Miliakere Kaitani, a lecturer in development studies, was speaking on the topic Sexual Behaviour of Fijian Men at USP yesterday. Dr Kaitani, who did a survey with young Fijian men aged between 15-24, said the social structures which used to exist in societies were no longer there. “ The people, the advisers in the community who were advising young people on sex activities, are no longer in Fiji,’’ she said. “ This is because we have migrated, moved into other places and changed our set-up from village community/extended family to nuclear families.”
She also blamed the adverse economic climate that was forcing mothers and daughters into the sex trade. She said mothers were encouraging their young daughters to indulge in prostitution so that their families could survive economically. Dr Kaitani, a lecturer in development studies, said during the survey, commercial workers revealed this to her.
She said some commercial workers had to support younger brothers and sisters who were still at school. She did not wish to reveal more on the topic, saying it was sensitive. But Dr Kaitani said commercial sex workers were the ones who were always careful about sexually-transmitted diseases and went to clinics for check-ups. She said a new cultural system needed to replace the older advisory system. Dr Kaitani said family members used to have uncles and aunts there to advise the young generation. “ Now there is no one around. So we need someone to replace that,” said Dr Kaitani.
She said parents needed to be taught on how to advise their children. “ It could also be the new community leader. There are a lot of centres where we could have someone there to advise the young people,” she added. Dr Kaitani said young Methodist men were partaking in riskier sex practices compared to Catholics. The reason, Dr Kaitani said, the Catholics had a good system in place where parents are educated on how to educate their children about this issue.
24 September 2006 – Fiji Times
Hindus, Muslims back church concerning the decriminalisation of abortion and homosexual behaviour
Religious organisations have backed concerns raised by the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, saying lawmakers should be careful with any legislation concerning the decriminalisation of abortion and homosexual behaviour. Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji president, Kamlesh Arya, said the Sabha opposed abortion and homosexual behaviour. Mr Arya said the Sabha, one of the largest Hindu organisations in the country, supported views by the Methodist Church that lawmakers in Fiji should be careful how they worded laws concerning the decriminalisation of abortion and homosexual behaviour.
Mr Arya said from a religious perspective, the legalisation of abortion and homosexual behaviour did not go with the teachings and beliefs of the Sabha. This comes after legal experts began work to produce a new and comprehensive Criminal Law Act. The review team’s terms of reference will include a review of homosexual conduct and abortion laws within the jurisdiction of international human rights law.
Fiji Muslim League president Hafiz Khan voiced similar sentiments, saying Islamic law did not allow abortion or homosexual behaviour. Another Hindu organisation, the Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, said it did not encourage abortion but such measures could be condoned on purely medical grounds. Sabha president Surendra Kumar said: “They (doctors) are the right persons to decide as they know about abortion.”
25 September 2006 – Fiji Times
Wide consultation needed on laws
Wider consultation is needed on abortion and homosexual behaviour legislation, says the chief executive of the Social Welfare Ministry. Emele Duituturaga made the comment after religious organisations cautioned that lawmakers should be extra careful when drafting legislation related to abortion and homosexual behaviour.
Ms Duituturaga said the ministry would not comment on its stand until wider consultations were held with all stakeholders.
Legal experts have begun work to produce a new and comprehensive Criminal Law Act. The review team’s terms of reference will include a review of homosexual conduct and abortion laws within the jurisdiction of international human rights law. Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji president, Kamlesh Arya, earlier said the Sabha (one of the largest Hindu organisations in the country), opposed abortion and homosexual behaviour.
Mr Arya said from a religious perspective, the legalisation of abortion and homosexual behaviour did not go with the teachings and beliefs of the Sabha. Fiji Muslim League president Hafiz Khan voiced similar sentiments, saying Islamic law did not allow abortion or homosexual behaviour. Another Hindu organisation, the Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, said it did not encourage abortions but such measures could be condoned on purely medical grounds.
September 25, 2006 – LifeSiteNews.com
Fiji Considers Decriminalizing Abortion, Homosexual Activity
by Gudrun Schultz
Suva, Fiji – The island nation of Fiji is considering the decriminalization of abortion, homosexuality and prostitution, the Fiji Times reported September 21, after growing pressure by international activist organizations to alter the laws. Under Fiji’s present Penal Code, abortion and homosexual activity are considered criminal offences. Legal experts will spend the next three months preparing recommendations on the Crimes Act, which will replace the Penal Code, according to Fiji Law Reform Commission chairman Alipate Qetaki. “We would decide whether to decriminalize these offences or retain existing laws,” he told the Times.
The legal commission will consider suggestions to permit abortion if the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, if the woman would be “mentally unfit” to care for the child, if the woman had been using a birth control method or device when she became pregnant, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Regarding homosexuality, the Fiji High Court earlier set the stage for the law reassessment when it ruled that Penal Code provisions against homosexuality were unconstitutional and breached individual rights to privacy and equality before the law. Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase supports the nation’s existing homosexuality laws, stating in April 2005 that the laws reflect the Biblical prohibition of homosexual activity, speaking on a local radio station.
Christian groups opposed to the High Court’s ruling were denied the right to march in protest in November 2005, after holding one demonstration in Nausori earlier in the year. Dr. Shaista Shameem, head of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, warned the Methodist Church of Fiji it could face prosecution if it insisted on a second march against expressing opposition to legalized homosexuality.
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Fiji’s Christian Majority Denied Right to March against Homosexuality by ‘Human Rights’ Commission
17 October 2006 – Fiji Times
Respect Fiji’s law, gay tourists told
by Ashwini Prasad
Homosexual tourists are welcome to visit Fiji because the country’s Constitution protects their rights as it does everyone else’s, says Fiji Visitors Bureau chief executive Viliame Gavoka. But he also asked that tourists respect Fiji’s law which does not condone homosexual activity. “ The view of the FVB on this subject reflects the law of our country in that we do not discriminate against gays as they are protected by law like everyone else and are welcome to visit Fiji as tourists,” Mr Gavoka said. “ We need to be very clear on these two issues, that is, our law does not discriminate against gays and we want them to visit us and also our law does not condone homosexual activities and we want everyone to respect that,” he said.
He was responding to comments by Peter Dawkins from the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, who said in an interview with Pacific Beat that the region’s tourism sector could reap enormous rewards by targeting services and products towards gay travellers. He said in the interview that the financial benefits of catering to homosexual travellers to the Pacific should not be overlooked.
Fiji Islands and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto said the association wanted any form of tourism that would not disturb the social and cultural fabric of the country. Mr Seeto said it was a complex matter that needed to be considered carefully by tourism operators, the Government and the Tourism ministry.
25 October 2006 – Fiji Times
Pressure on cops to find conman
Fiji police are under increasing pressure to find and arrest wanted Australian conman, Peter Foster. The tourism industry has called on the authorities to clear the air over claims that a gays-only resort was proposed for an island in the Yasawa Group. It is understood that 10 days ago, a former associate of Foster’s gave police information on where the conman was hiding. A visit by The Fiji Times yesterday to the exclusive hillside three-storey house, which has a extensive ocean view and owned by another expatriate, failed to locate Foster.
Lights were on inside the house and an air-conditioning unit was running but no one answered repeated knocks at the door.
The house has an extensive video security system which monitors anyone inside the compound. Tourism Minister Tomasi Vuetilovoni said publicity surrounding the case could hurt the tourism industry unless it was sorted out quickly. He said he was aware of suspicion that the gay resort claims had been fabricated by Foster in an attempt to discredit a genuine investor. “ I think it is about time that we come to some sort of clarification as to what exactly happened,” said Mr Vuetilovoni. Police spokeswoman Sylvia Low said investigating officers had been unable to find Foster to interview him.
Foster is alleged to have manufactured a series of false Internet sites and conversations on chat channels to give the impression that a resort planned for the remote island would be marketed exclusively to homosexuals. It is also believed that Foster and four associates were trying to influence the Native Land Trust Board into revoking a lease held by rival leaseholders so they could take over and develop their own resort. He is also alleged to have supplied a false criminal history when applying for a work permit, which has since been cancelled. On Monday it was revealed that a consultancy firm hired by Foster entertained a number of politicians and bankers at an exclusive Suva restaurant in July this year. However, the firm says it has now cut its links with the conman and says that an invoice on its letterhead, sent to The Fiji Times, was faked.
The invoice showed details of expenditure allegedly incurred in dealings with Foster and totalling more than $75,000. It listed the cost of the Suva dinner, for nine people, as $1631.40, including $350 for “agency fees and hosting cost. The invoice is doctored,” said the former consultant. “ It’s not ours. At one stage, we did represent Peter, but not anymore” he said. Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has called for an investigation into Foster’s work permit which, he said, was given in exchange for political campaign advice, as shown by a letter from the SDL. The letter, dated May 21, 2006, welcomed Foster back to Fiji and promised to provide assistance to facilitate his projects.
January 18, 2007 – Figi Times
Gay sex scene faces check
A Magistrate will visit the scene where two males were allegedly involved in indecent practices at the Suva foreshore, before passing judgment on their case. Magistrate Aruna Prasad told police prosecution she needed to go to the crime scene herself to see whether the person who allegedly witnessed the offence, was capable of accurately seeing what happened.
She is expected to pass judgment after seeing the point beneath the FDB foreshore tower in Suva, where the witness saw the pair allegedly engaged in a sexual act. The two man denied the offence. They were represented by Legal Aid Commission lawyer, Resina Senikuraciri.
The men were arrested after the witness a delivery boy notified the police. The alleged incident happened at about 4pm on March 12 last year. Police Prosecutor Inspector Jese Wilson said the case could not be compared to a landmark ruling that freed two men on a similar charge in Nadi because the alleged actions of the Suva pair took place in public.
April 13, 2009 – The New York Times
Fiji Military Regime Expels 3 Foreign Journalists
by The Associated Press
Suva, Fiji (AP) — Fiji’s military government expelled three foreign television journalists Tuesday, a day after threatening them with deportation as local media protested new censorship by canceling news broadcasts and leaving pages of newspapers blank. Underlining sensitivity over international coverage of the latest power grab led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, security officials detained Australian reporter Sean Dorney, New Zealand reporter Sia Aston and cameraman Matt Smith before putting them on flights out of Nadi International Airport early Tuesday.
The expulsions were confirmed by their media organizations in the two countries. A local Fiji One television reporter, identified by colleagues as Edwin Nand, was also taken into custody, reportedly for transmitting news material overseas. The governments of Australia and New Zealand have criticized Bainimarama for suspending freedom of speech and accused him of undermining the well-being of Fiji’s citizens.
”We’ve got effectively a self-appointed dictator” and a ”very unpredictable” regime, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Tuesday, echoing comments a day earlier by Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. Fiji’s latest political upheaval began Friday when President Ratu Josefa Iloilo abolished the constitution, fired all the judges and declared a state of emergency in response to a senior court’s ruling that Bainimarama’s regime was unlawful. He set a timetable of five years for elections. He denied he was acting at the behest of Bainimarama.
Bainimarama moved quickly to tighten his grip on the country, posting censors in newsrooms and putting up roadblocks on the capital’s streets. The Fiji Times, the country’s main newspaper, published its Sunday and Monday editions with several blank spaces where stories about the crisis would have appeared. ”The stories on this page could not be published because of Government restrictions,” read the only words on Sunday’s page two.
Fiji’s main television station, Fiji One, refused to broadcast its nightly news bulletin Sunday, instead showing a simple message written across a black screen: ”Viewers please be advised that there will be no 6 p.m. news tonight.” The station later informed viewers it could not present some prepared stories because of censorship rules. Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup — the country’s fourth in 20 years — but insists his rule is legitimate. He has said he will eventually hold elections to restore democracy, after he rewrites the constitution and electoral laws to remove what he says is racial discrimination against a large ethnic Indian minority.
Australia, the United States, the United Nations and others accuse Bainimarama of dragging his feet on the restoration of democracy. Many nations have imposed sanctions, and the country’s tourism- and sugar export-dependent economy has plummeted since the coup.
14 July 2009 – Figi Village
Churches need to assist homosexuals: Sipeli
It is the role of churches to assist young homosexuals. While discussing the topic of Identity on day two of the Pacific Youth Festival in Suva, gay activist Peter Sipeli told delegates that churches need to help those that are gay, as they are the ones struggling in the community. Sipeli shared his personal experience, saying his close relatives and many people did not understand him as a person, because he felt different from other boys. He said the community makes fun of people like him.
Meanwhile, Chair of the Pacific Conference of Churches Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho, while responding to Sipeli’s statement said this issue is being discussed in churches. There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.
And with the Festival now underway in Suva, Fijivillage spoke to delegates from different Pacific island countries about how they are feeling about being in Fiji. There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.
The Pacific Youth Festival continues this week with various workshops ongoing during the day and cultural events at night.