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AUSTRALIA - Apr 19, 2005

In yet another case of abuse of human rights of one of its gay citizens, Australia has refused to assist a man who was arrested abroad for having consensual gay sex.

Thomas McCosker, 55, was sentenced to two years in jail for having consensual gay sex with another adult, a crime which the Fijian Judge, gay-hater Syed Mokhtar Shah, said was "so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit."

McCosker and his Fijian lover have been released on bail pending an appeal to Fiji's High Court. The judge scheduled to hear the appeal has asked Fiji's Attorney-General and Human Rights Commission to help him decide what to do.

The Australian Government has previously abandoned its gay citizens who live abroad, in some cases working behind the scenes to prejudice investigations as in a 2004 Thai case in which it cancelled the passport of its citizen before he was brought to trial on trumped-up obscenity charges.

The laws under which McCosker was convicted are similar to Tasmanian laws abolished in 1997 after intense United Nations pressure broke the territory's refusal to abandon discrimination against its gay citizens.

Article 175 of Fiji's Penal Code provides for up to 14 years' imprisonment, "with or without corporal punishment," for "any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature." Article 177 allows up to five years' imprisonment for "any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person." Both laws are borrowed from antique Victorian-era laws when Fiji a British colony from 1874 until independence in 1970. These outdated laws are in direct conflict with Fiji's 1997 constitution in which Article 38 bars discrimination based on any "actual or supposed personal characteristics or circumstances, including…sexual orientation." Article 37 of the constitution also protects the "right to personal privacy."

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