Wednesday, April 13, 2005

This Just In: Fijian High Court Now Doing Australia's Foreign Affairs Department's Job For Them!

Good news is that, in the case of the Australian man jailed in Fiji for consensual sex with another man, a Suva-based barrister has stepped in to appeal the ruling and, sure enough, both men have been bailed by a single High Court judge "on the basis that the prospect of an acquittal is good and that the laws under which the two men were gaoled have been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee in a 1994 case about similar laws which then prevailed in the Australian state of Tasmania".

Extracted from my next SX column:

"While none of (our government's) members will lift a finger to assist McCoskar (the Australian tourist in question), they’re falling all over themselves to try and save Australian alleged drug smuggler, Schapelle Corby, from execution by the Indonesian government should she be found guilty. Justice Minister Chris Ellison claims quite hyperbolically that (his government) 'goes into overdrive in making representations to avoid (the death penalty) being carried out'.

"Essentially, this demonstrates that our government believes in working hard to protect its citizens from potential death penalties overseas. It doesn’t believe, however, that a sentence of up to 14 years for an act of consensual sex between two adults is so unreasonable and extreme that it needs to step in and challenge the laws of Fiji as it is doing with the laws of Indonesia.

"Why is it that the United Nations and Fiji’s own High Court can recognise and reject blatant, inexcusable discrimination against queer people, but our government cannot?

"Is the moral of these contrasting situations that the Howard government prioritises diplomatic intervention with its citizens, not according to the clear injustice and extremity of other countries’ laws, but according to the gender, sexuality and photographicness of the law-breakers in question? Are we to believe that a former Gold Coast beauty student who cries a lot on camera only need claim she has been set-up to have the force of an entire government unite behind her, while we queers who dare to have private, consensual sex with our partners abroad must wait for assistance from everybody other than our own government?"

The inaction of the Howard government notwithstanding, this ruling is a vindication for queers everywhere and a demonstration that while our government might condone homophobia, oppression and violation of fundamental human rights, many other countries and foreign bodies do not.


At 13/4/05 10:32 am, Blogger Miss Ember said...

I'm sure if David Hicks was a young twenty-something girlie with a hairdressing certificate and overplucked eyebrows, the government would be bending over backwards too :(

At 13/4/05 10:50 am, Blogger semaphore junction said...

Being able to save this womans life could mean extra brownie points a the next election from the young adult vote. They don't really think much of the pink vote. I think it's time that they got their act together and had one good look at themselves.

At 13/4/05 11:04 am, Anonymous Oscar said...

MrLefty is posting on this too.

At 13/4/05 4:56 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Posted this in the earlier post without noticing there was a newer one.

We dont have any business getting involved here. This is very, very different to Corby in that she may be innocent, whereas this man is quite obviously guilty. The laws of Fiji state that homosexual acts are illegal. Regardless of the stupidity of such laws, McCoskar should have known they existed and obeyed them. Whether he didnt know, or he did know and chose to ignore them, is irrelevant.

We should not be getting on our moral high-horses and demanding that he be released on account of their laws being contrary to our ideology. Their laws are THEIR laws, and we have no right to change them or demand that we be above them. That would be ridiculous.

The jail term is justified and he can sit there for the two years as far as Im concerned.

At 13/4/05 4:58 pm, Blogger Sam said...

(and chasing you up the screen)
Nic: Firstly, Corby is not definitely innocent. She is saying she is, yes - doesn't automatically mean it's true.

Secondly, my posting was not about the guilt or otherwise of the people involved, it was about the consequent punishments issued by Indonesia and Fiji and how Australia reacts if/when its citizens are convicted.

Australia cannot have it both ways - it cannot object to the extremity of one nation's punishment (eg Indonesia's death penalty) upon an Australian citizen, without objecting to extremities in other nations (ie 2 years for sex between consenting adults). If the DFA is truly serious about Australians having to respect the laws of other countries, it should not interfere with Corby's execution (and whether or not we believe she is innocent, this is generally what happens when people are found guilty of breaching Indonesia's anti-drug trafficking laws).

I think the fact that this judgment will likely be overturned and the Fiji judiciary will itself acquit these men more than validates my right to get on the high horse and ride it remorselessly.

At 13/4/05 5:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nic pretends to be in the centre.
He is actually a gay basher and is totally without compassion. I find his comments despicable. Sadly, predictable.
If he ever get's through a journalism course ,though, work will be available. Ruppy is looking for more of his kind.

At 13/4/05 5:47 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

I agree that Australia should not be lobbying Indonesia to lessen Corby's sentance, merely applying sufficient pressure to ensure the trial proceeds fairly and impartialy (given Indonesia's dodgy record). Here the situation is different, as he has pleaded guilty. We have no right to get involved, just as we have no right to get involved in the Bashir sentancing, like we tried to.

"I think the fact that this judgment will likely be overturned and the Fiji judiciary will itself acquit these men more than validates my right to get on the high horse and ride it remorselessly."

But by doing that you are interfering with, or at least condoning interference with, the laws of another nation.

At 13/4/05 5:50 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

"Nic pretends to be in the centre.
He is actually a gay basher and is totally without compassion. I find his comments despicable. Sadly, predictable.
If he ever get's through a journalism course ,though, work will be available. Ruppy is looking for more of his kind."

I would invite you to justify this statement, especially in light of my previous articles on the issue of sexuality, which may be more to your taste. This is strictly a legal and international relations question.

At 13/4/05 7:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why has it taken this long to realise that the coalition doesn't give a stuff about us... That is FACT !!! We as a community have failed to engage with this government and with them believing that there is no point dealing with us as we are all left wing rat bags.. Apart from maybe one or two supporters within this government most MP's are antagonistic towards us. The defining moment in this Government attitude towards queers was with the Kirby incident with John Howard encouraging Bill Heffernam to make those outrageous accusations. Come July there homophobia will no longer be hidden and MP's will have free range to disparage us at every opportunity.

At 13/4/05 11:22 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Trackback replacement:

At 14/4/05 9:28 am, Blogger Sam said...

Nic: But where do we draw the line mate? If 5 years ago an Australian woman had been arrested and imprisoned in Afghanistan by the Taliban for exposing a tiny part of her body, would we have said then that we should respect the laws of Afghanistan and let her sit in a cell?
I agree that generallly non-intervention is the best way to go, but sometimes there are laws so clearly and objectively wrong that they're worth a challenge, especially when one of our own citizens is to be convicted under them. I believe Fiji's anti-gay laws are a good example of this.

At 14/4/05 8:45 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

No lines Sam. Its your responsibility to find out what their laws are, and its DFAT's ability to make them public in order to help you do this. This applies universally as far as Im concerned.

At 15/4/05 2:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GLBT rights are not just a local issue they are an international issue. We have every moral right to travel wherever we wish, to be who we are without hinderance or restriction.

At 16/4/05 8:33 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Reality dictates otherwise.

At 17/4/05 12:15 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Very defeatist of you Nic. Yes, current reality dictates that we don't always have these freedoms as we should - in fact we can still be executed for our "crimes" in 9 countries - but that doesn't mean we should have to accept this without question or challenge.
This is why we can look at the Fiji case in a positive light, as an opportunity for international GLBTQ campaigners to argue their case and hopefully make Fiji re-consider its current laws.

At 17/4/05 10:57 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Im more being realistic about it, like always. By all means try and you obviously have my support.


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