Homosexuality in Fiji: Three Views

| Thursday, January 1st, 2009 | Comments Off

Enclosed here are three stories from three different perspectives about gay life in Fiji.  The first (2009) is a recent commentary from a cheerful gay Fijian who has experienced a mostly pleasant life being ‘out’ in the capital city of Suva and living with a boyfriend. "Being brought up all my life in Suva city, I really don’t see any problems with being gay."

The second story (2007)  is not cheerful: "I don’t recommend anyone gay visit Fiji. I’m living in Australia now and have sold my business there. Rabid homophobia drove me out. Fiji is a very religious country and this controls everything that happens there, especially how they feel and act towards gays."

The third story regards a notorious event that happened in 2002 when a prominent male couple were murdered. Because the men were gay, rumors swirled around the tragic and bloody episode about sex and drugs and intrigue. The story was posted worldwide and left Fiji, for a while, with a tarnished reputation as a tourist paradise.

Also see:
Gay Fiji News & Reports 2001 to present


Story 1

"Being brought up all my life in Suva city, I really don’t see any problems with being gay."–a Personal Perspective

From Nic
Suva, Fiji
January 6, 2009


Dear GlobalGayz
I am a 24 years old Indian gay guy living here in Fiji islands. On your website, I have read some negative comments [stories 2 and 3 below] from some people on the situation of gay life in Fiji. Well I definitely don’t agree about these negative views about Fiji and how they deal with gays.

For starters I do agree that an Australian national and a local were arrested for having sex.

However, after this action, the court made rulings that both the accused be released without any form of charges outlayed to them. The Fiji Human rights body in Fiji was very proactive in that situation. The only reason the two were taken into court was mainly because the so called concept of "Sodomy Law" was applied by some uninformed police but the court ruled that it was an archaic law.


Also on GlobalGayz an author has expressed a view on pornography. It is true that porn is illegal in Fiji. However, I believe that the writer didn’t fully understood what is outlayed regarding laws of pornography here.

It is very well instructed in my Fiji constitution that the sale of pornographic material in the market is illegal and shooting pornography for commercial purposes is illegal as well.

However, if two adults are shooting porn for personal usage it is not illegal. As long as it is not out in the open or in the public domain.   I see lots of gay tourists coming here for holidays and holding hands and are still welcome by our people.

I have friends who have partners here in Fiji and are open about their relationships and being gay is accepted by lots of people here in Fiji. 

The writer has only talked about village life and church members that are stereotypes which are not entirely true. He did not write about the city life in Fiji? Nothing has been mentioned about that. It is not the same.

For example, I am living in Suva with my Australian boyfriend here. I am a local Indian guy and we don’t experience any form of discrimination in our lives—and we have organized lots of gay parties.  I hope from this that homosexuals or anybody wanting to visit Fiji should be all right. 
Cheers Nic

GlobalGayz to Nic
Thank you very much for your message.  Yes, I agree the stories about gay Fiji (on GlobalGayz) are negative and they must be balanced by a positive story such as yours. Please to write a longer positive commentary about your life in Fiji as a gay person.

Can you tell me more about your life in Fiji? How long you have been there; how you met your boyfriend; your gay friends; gay community and social life; absence of homophobia in your life (and your friends?); gay life in the larger city vs in the rural countryside; attitudes of straight people you know… anything you want to say that will give a reader a more balanced view of gay Fiji. I think this is an important story that must be told.

Nic
Ok let me start of with my story. Firstly I am a graduate from University. I met my boyfriend at nightclub in Fiji called Ed’s bar. He is Australian by nationality but works in Fiji. I am 23 years of age and he is 27years of age.

Basically in Fiji I don’t see that being gay is a big thing. I was born and bred in Fiji and of course I have seen how gay life has transformed over time.  I was always open about being gay. However, when I first came out my family wasn’t very supportive as they were shocked because I am very straight acting that might be a surprise for lots of people.

However, I have also dated local guys and it seems to me gay life is pretty ‘straight’ forward here. I live in Suva, the capital of Fiji. I have lots of straight friends who actually don’t find being gay is a big thing in Fiji. Most of my straight friends, or I must say all of them, are cool with me being gay.

However, there are some who don’t agree with the homosexual scene but still see me as their friend. Definitely we don’t have specific gay bars in Fiji but yeah we do have mixed bars and people visit them regardless of their sexual orientation.

Likewise, the gay scene is visible in bars. Being brought up all my life in Suva city, I really don’t see any problems with being gay in the city and Fiji has never experienced violence against homosexuals. (The 2001 murders of Scott and Scrivener, well known gays here, were notorious but it was not just because they were gay.) [see story 3 below]

However, in the small village areas here I would advise visitors to be cautious due to cultural sensitivity. Fijian villages are very conservative and respected places therefore I believe it is fair to show mutual respect to village beliefs and traditions.

Now coming back Fiji in General. I believe people have expressed their concerns whereby the homosexual Australian and Fijian (mentioned before) were taken into custody in 2005. I can see how many people in Fiji or incoming tourists may become scared of this. But there is no longer any need for people to be scared about this.

The reason is that both men were quickly freed. Why? 1) Fiji is the second country in the world that has ratified the UN convention against any form of discrimination toward sexual orientation. It is also in Fiji’s constitution. 2) Fiji also had a right to privacy act whereby people can practice any form of sexual act as far as it’s not within the domain or the public sphere.

Now, I am sure people may ask why then the two guys as stated above were taken into custody in the first place. This is simply because there is an old "Sodomy Law" which states that anybody practicing sodomy will be convicted in Fiji.

However, when the case as above arose, the Judge stated in his judgment that Sodomy Law may not be applied anymore due to the UN Convention which Fiji has ratified and as well as the privacy rights for individuals.

I have personally recently spoken to someone with Fiji Human Rights about this issue and currently I was advised that the Sodomy Law is sort of archaic now.

So, guys if you want to visit Fiji I think its safe for everybody. In 2006, Fiji’s High Commissioner to New Zealand also reinstated that no homosexual men in Fiji will be arrested any more for having consensual sex. Please you might like to even browse the web for this if you happen not to believe me. I hope this helps to make a better reason not to fear being gay in Fiji.

Sincerely
Nic


 Story 2

Escaping from the Darkness of Paradise

June 2007
By Peter in Australia

Let me just talk about our final year (2006) of living in Fiji with my partner and hopefully it will tell you some of the reasons why we left.

About a year ago, a retired teacher (Thomas McCosker 55) from Australia came over to Fiji for a vacation. He ended up meeting a young Indian boy (early 20’s) and they got together in the hotel for sex. Typically, locals don’t do anything in Fiji for free. There’s always a catch. This young man turned around after having sex with the retired teacher and stole some money out of his wallet. The retired teacher called the police about the incident. The police ended up and arrested both men. Men having sex together in Fiji is illegal.

What made matters worse is that the couple took pictures of themselves having sex. This now brought on charges of pornography (any form of pornography is illegal in Fiji). The two men received a lite 2 years sentence in prison. (See GlobalGayz News & Reports #10-13)

Australia, America and other countries fought to get these two out of prison, but it didn’t work. Fiji told the other countries to mind their own business and leave them alone. The person residing over the court the day the two men were sentenced made this quote: Magistrate Syed Muhktar Shah described their behaviour as "something so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit."

The two men finally did get out of prison after about 3 months.

This incident started changing how people felt and acted towards gays in Fiji, or rather it re-awakened a darkness that was already there. The tourism minister made comments that gays weren’t welcome in Fiji and it started to become a daily topic in the paper.

Then the straw that broke the camels back for me and my partner:

A man from Australia named Peter Foster came over to Fiji. Peter is a known con-man in many countries including Australia and the UK. He was involved in trying to take a pristine beach away from a New Zealand developer. The way this was accomplished was by creating fake rumors throughout the internet via blogs and emails that the developer was creating a gay resort.

That’s when Fiji’s ‘true colors’ really showed. It was written in the papers that Fiji didn’t want gays coming for a visit because gays are thieves, drunks, and rapists. The churches were banding together to cause trouble for gay people as was the government. You have to keep in mind that the Fijian government is run by men that are ministers of the church. The ousted Prime Minister, Vice President, etc, all have large roles in different churches around Fiji.

While everyone was "investigating" this so called gay resort in Fiji, my partner and I were thrown into the picture. We had a guest house in Fiji that was listed on a website called Purple Roofs and a couple of other gay travel sites. Someone found our website and listing and put us on the front page of the Fiji Times with the title "Gay Holidays Already for Sale in Fiji". We had the whole front page of the nations paper talking about how we were already bringing gays into Fiji.

To make matters worse, it was stated that the story was being handed over to the police to further investigate. It felt as if we were doing something illegal like smuggling people out of a country, but in this case into the country.

After about 2 weeks they found that Peter Foster was a fraud and he made the whole story up about the gay resort. (See GlobalGayz News & Reports #20)

Unfortunately the hatred towards gays didn’t leave. The church is very strong in Fiji.. They run the country. As long as that is the case, gays will never be welcome in Fiji. We could no longer withstand the scrutiny or the negative publicity so we put our guesthouse up for sale and moved to Australia–much to our relief and distress–where we now feel welcome and are enjoying our life again.

I hope some of this helps explain why we left Fiji and why we will never go back there again.

Follow-up question from GlobalGayz:
You said "This incident started changing how people felt and acted towards gays in Fiji. The tourism minister made comments that gays weren’t welcome in Fiji and it started to become a daily topic in the paper." What else was said and by whom?

Peter:
When I first moved to Fiji, the word gay never came up. It wasn’t an issue. When everything with Peter Foster and the teacher happened, that’s when the word "gay" was used and the public was told how bad gays were. As told earlier they stated that we were the thieves, drunks, rapists, etc of the community.
GG:
How far into the general population did this homophobia go?

Peter:
In Fiji, you still have the village mentality. These people are taught that being gay is wrong by their church and that will go throughout the whole village "because the church said so". They are taught in a village to think as one and to support each other. They are not taught to be individuals and to have their own ideas.

GG:

Was there any resistance against the homophobia?

Peter:
No resistance at all.
GG:

Was there any violence against gays?
Peter:
I can say that one good thing is that I didn’t hear about any violence against gays while I was there. Then again it’s such a closeted subject and we really didn’t have any gay friends in Fiji, so we would have been out of that loop to hear things like that.
The church is very strong in Fiji. They run the country. As long as that is the case, gays will never be welcome in Fiji.
GG:

Which church(es)? Led by the clergy or by ‘mob’ church people?
Peter:
The main religion/churches in Fiji is the Methodist church. The Hindi religion isn’t outspoken in the country, so you rarely hear anything from them. The Methodists feel they have so much power that they were even trying to change what was happening with the coup in 2006.
GG:
Are there any gays left in Fiji?

Peter:
I’m sure there are a lot of gays in Fiji–just closeted. With the age of the Internet, you can see on sites like gaydar and a few others that many people are starting to put listings on the net. In the past they had no way of contacting each other. This is starting to change things.
GG:
Are there any community or venues?
Peter:
No venues and no community.
GG:

Is there any effort to fight back?
Peter:
I don’t see anyone wanting to fight back. This is a country where you leave things alone and you don’t fight. If you are an expat or outsider, don’t bother trying anything as they will just kick you out of the country and not let you back in.
GG:
How can all this homophobia be justified since discrimination is forbidden by the constitution?
Peter:
The constitution is what finally won in the end with the retired Australian teacher that was in prison for having sex with another man. Even with that in place, they managed to keep him in prison for some time. You have to keep in mind that Fiji is a third world country. Things that would protect you in normal countries won’t help you in Fiji.


Story 3

Murder and Homophobia in Paradise:
drama and background about gays in Fiji

By Bill Strubbe
‘Out’ magazine, January 2002
With additional reporting  by Luisa Tora

 The annual Red Cross ball held at Fiji’s Queen Elizabeth Barracks is the culmination of the social calendar in Suva, the South Pacific nation’s capital. On the evening of June 30 last year, military leaders, government officials, tribal chiefs, and media celebrities ambled up the steps in tuxedos and evening gowns to attend the gala, co-hosted by the Fiji Red Cross and the commander of the Fiji military forces. Greeting them at the green-carpeted entrance was the fund-raiser’s master of ceremonies, 53-year-old John Scott, the director of Fiji’s Red Cross; also present, though not as Scott’s escort, was his longtime partner, Gregory Scrivener, 39, who had overseen much of the decor and flowers. (photo below)

Men in brass-studded uniforms ushered guests to banquet tables as couples danced across the gleaming wooden floor in time to the army band. Between sets an auctioneer sold off donated gifts to the highest bidders. As festivities wrapped up, Scott and Scrivener returned with friends to their elegant, art- filled home overlooking Suva’s bay for a breakfast party.

That morning at around 9, their house boy entered the bedroom and found a horrific scene: two dead bodies, nearly decapitated, fingers and hands cut off; gore-splattered walls; and a trail of crimson footprints. Terrified, he ran to the neighbors, who summoned the police. The murder weapon, a cane knife, was found nearby, along with discarded bloodstained clothing.

Suva and indeed all of Fiji were stunned. As friends and family mourned, the brutal murders grabbed headlines for days: "Fiji Dead Feared for Their Lives," "Arrest Looms in Gruesome Double Murder," and "Double Lives and Double Death."

The police immediately ruled out robbery, since large sums of money were left untouched at the crime scene. That left the field open for speculation: theories of a politically motivated killing circulated along with rumors of drug- and sex soaked soirees. Officials and the press leaned toward a personal vendetta, while friends and family suspected political assassination- both co-mingled with a large dose of homophobia.

Fiji conjures up the image of the quintessential South Pacific tropical paradise: coconut palms rustling in the breeze, Technicolor fish and corals, and a sun-bronzed populace with ready smiles. But a look at the background of the murders highlights the political, racial, and social issues that have been roiling Fiji for decades, with roots dating back over a century.

The first missionaries arrived in the 1830s and rapidly moved to Christianize the cannibalistic (yet reputedly amical– assuming you weren’t the ritual meal) islanders. In 1874, Fiji became a British colony, and between 1879 and 1916, 60,000 Indian laborers were imported to work the sugarcane fields. Two thirds of these workers eventually became citizens, and these Indo-Fijians now make up about 45% of the population. Over the years they were increasingly resented for their economic and political gains by the indigenous Fijians, who make up 50% of the population The remaining 5% consists of Anglos, Chinese, and others.

After Fiji gained its independence from the United Kingdom in I970, tensions between the two largest ethnic groups became a major factor in the country’s politics. The Alliance Party, which was dominated by native Fijians and formed the new nation’s first government, remained in power for I7 years. In I987 it lost to a coalition headed by the Indo-Fijian National Federation Party But after only one month the predominantly Fijian military overthrew the new government in two back-to-back coups, and in 1990 it established a constitution favoring indigenous Fijians.

It was into this political cauldron that John Scott fell in I994 when he left his lucrative position at Fiji Shell Ltd. to become the head of Fiji’s Red Cross. Scott was born in Suva in I948, the son of a legislative council speaker, Sir Maurice Scott. Educated in Fiji and New Zealand, the younger Scott held prominent positions in national and regional councils. He favored reading biographies, enjoyed entertaining, loved his wine with dinner, and was characterized by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances as "professional and competent," "compassionate," and someone with "a big heart." Suva resident Sharon Bhagwan Rolls recalls Scott as being "really caring" when he and his partner, Scrivener, helped her through the breakup of her marriage.

Greg Scrivener was born in I962 in Tauranga, New Zealand, and met Scott when he was I8. He moved to Fiji around I990 to be with Scott, although he retained close ties with his family. Scrivener acted as a contact for his brother-in-law’s swimwear company, but his real passion was plants: The couple’s sprawling tropical garden culminated in an orchid greenhouse. Friendly and easygoing, Scrivener frequently assisted Scott in his Red Cross activities.

As the Red Cross director, Scott rapidly garnered respect across Fiji’s fractious political spectrum, most notably for his role in the political coup of 2000. In May of that year, armed rebels headed by failed businessman George Speight, who claimed to be acting on behalf of Fijians who felt marginalized by the growing influence of Indo-Fijians, stormed the parliament and held Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 32 parliament members hostage at gunpoint. Scott was one of the few outsiders allowed into the building, daily delivering food, medicine, letters, and encouragement. (photo right)  After 56 days Speight and his cohorts were arrested and the hostages released.

During those trying days, Scott wrote in his journal, "I sensed clearly that my presence was initially considered to be very unwelcome. It would appear I was seen to be on the ‘side’ of the hostages…. Early on it was clear that the Red Cross neutral and impartial image was misunderstood on the inside."

In the coup’s wake, Scott became increasingly anxious and expressed fear for his life. Friends and family believe that while in the parliament Scott might have gleaned information implicating covert coup supporters among police, the military, cabinet ministers, and businessmen—information that could have created lethal enemies. Scott hoped to avoid testifying in the impending trial out of concern that his testimony would compromise the Red Cross’s neutrality. But an official investigating the coup, Inspector Waisea Tabalcau, confirmed in the ‘Fiji Times’ that Scott had been interviewed and might have been called as a state witness. Several days before his death, Scott was visited in his office by a man warning him not to testify.

Fueling suspicions of assassination was the fact that the fingernails on one of Scrivener’s hands had been yanked out. Fiji police countered by saying it’s routine to remove nail clippings while collecting DNA evidence. A private autopsy was performed by a New Zealand coroner, who concluded that Scrivener was tortured, then beheaded.

Scrivener’s sister Judy Alvos, who lives in New Zealand, says the couple "had threats by phone before and during the coup, and Greg said their phone was tapped, and so they used E-mail instead. Greg even said that they may become refugees yet— hopefully in Paris—or they may just go out in body bags."

Coinciding with the political unrest and Scott’s position in the public spotlight was the emergence of a nascent gay rights movement—and some disturbing signs of backlash. "Even before the coup they frequently mentioned being afraid of being woken up in the night and taken to jail for being gay," recounts Janice Giles, Scrivener’s other sister. "They also said they did not trust Fiji police to protect them if they needed it. He and John were both afraid, particularly of police commissioner Isikia Savua, whom they described as ‘hating them.’ " Giles related an incident at a public gathering where Commissioner Savua had pointedly stated within hearing distance of Scott that "homosexuality is illegal in this country."

The penal code makes sex acts between men illegal, though the laws are rarely enforced; like the archaic British laws they were modeled on, they make no mention of sexual activity between women. In fact, Fiji’s constitution is one of only two in the world that protects gays and lesbians. (South Africa’s is the other.) That happened in I998, when the Chaudhry government added a clause to section 38 of the bill of rights prohibiting discrimination based on race and sexual orientation.

An immediate backlash among conservative Christian Fijians ensued. Bowing to pressure from forces within the Methodist Church and the Fiji Council of Churches, a proposal was introduced to amend the bill of rights to read that homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage remain illegal. A bill submitted in 2000 would have defined marriage as the union of one woman and one man "to the exclusion of all others" and declared that the persecution of "unnatural offences, indecent assaults, or indecent practices" does not breach section 38, effectively invalidating the protections granted in it.

In response to this threat, Fiji’s lesbians and gays coalesced behind the Sexual Minorities Program at Women’s Action for Change (WAC/SM) and lobbied to defeat the bill. For the first time gay activists met with government officials and appeared in the news. A cabinet subcommittee was convened to explore the issue and a date was set to hear oral submissions, but the attempted coup of 2000 interrupted the process.

WAC/SM holds social events, runs self-esteem workshops, and is organizing participation in the 2002 Sydney Gay Games. The group continues to have difficulty in attracting funding. "Oxfam and a Dutch donor, Umverteillen, are helping us out a lot at the moment," explains WAC founder Peni Moore. "It is exceptionally hard because every time we mention gays and lesbians, they [potential donors] don’t want to take it on."

After the murders gays reported an increase in verbal abuse against obviously gay people on the street, mainly because the topic of homosexuality had come to the forefront in the news. In Fiji abuse is generally more teasing than malicious, and violent assaults are more likely to occur at the hands of family members, a partner’s family, or sexual partners than from strangers. Violence, often related to alcohol and drug abuse or perceptions of the butch/femme behavior stereotypes prevalent among both gay men and women, is not uncommon.

The salacious and bizarre developments in the Scott-Scrivener murder case appeared daily in the press: A disgraced policeman was questioned, as was a drug dealer who reportedly received a letter from Scott forbidding him to visit the house again. A would-be executioner then confessed, but his statements were quickly dismissed because they did not jibe with facts at the crime scene. Three constables assigned to guard the murdered couple’s home were arrested for pilfering items from the house.

A white powder—said to be cocaine was reportedly discovered on the premises, but this has never been verified. Police said they seized a trove of porn videos and declared that leading public figures were among the debauchees; the next day the police inexplicably retracted the extraordinary charges. Four days after the murder, police commissioner Savua stated at a press conference, "Their faces were badly mutilated. Given the way they were killed, I can say it was a very personalized killing—out of vengeance, anger, and hurt…. I do not thhink it was politically motivated. It has more to do with lifestyle."

Later, on a New Zealand television program, Commissioner Savua said on camera, "People are focusing on the good side of Mr. Scott and his partner, Greg. But people tend to forget that he’s a practicing homosexual…. I don’t profess to understand everything about homosexuality, it’s just that they tend to be more vicious than the normal heterosexual relationship."

Scrivener’s family in particular was outraged that Savua was making such inappropriate and inflammatory comments. "Commissioner Savua, who has himself been implicated in the coup, had a field day doing character assassinations of John and Greg," says Judy Giles, who conjectures that false evidence may have been planted. "Wild speculation of motives related to their sexuality and lifestyle was actively encouraged from the first reports: allegations of pornography, pedophilia—both since disproved—and cocaine/heroin use thrown in for good measure."

Particularly disturbing to family and close friends were the sexual allegations that cropped up. Several articles reported assertions that young men frequently hung around the couple’s home, drinking and smoking pot. Three teenage boys appeared on New Zealand’s 20/20TV program to say that well-known teenage prostitutes visited the house the night before the murder; and a press account and a local journalist reported that Scott had once been investigated on pornography allegations but never charged. The show 60 Minutes (TVNZ) ran a feature titled " Saints or Sinners," investigating the lifestyle of the victims.

"Many Fijian men, especially when younger, will swing both ways," explains Norman Harm, an out gay Chinese-Fijian man who serves on the board of Fiji’s AIDS Task Force. "Sex with a man, especially when high on drinks or drugs, in their mind, doesn’t constitute being gay." Harm, who manages a gay-friendly cafe on Suva’s main drag, Victoria Parade, met Scott at social events, including an AIDS fund-raiser, and in the cafe. He explained that Fiji’s gay male society is three-tiered: expats, consisting primarily of older, white, wealthier men; obviously gay, effeminate younger Fijians; and men without obvious feminine traits, most of whom do not identify as gay.

Harm, who "heard through the grapevine about their wild parties," says, "The public may be incensed that John and Greg had sex with ‘schoolboys,’ but with I6 years the age of consent, it may be a moot point…. The age-of-consent question doesn’t really matter. What it boils down to is the perception of rich white men preying on local, often underprivileged boys."

"John and Greg were notorious for their night prowling of the streets, looking for Fijian boys," says a Suva-based journalist who requested anonymity. "The murder was not political but his past catching up to him."

Indeed, someone from Scott and Scrivener’s past was taken into custody ten days after the murders. With absolutely no credit to police work, 23-year-old Apete Kaisau, a friend of the gay couple, turned himself in and confessed to the crime.

"The day after the murders," explains Malakai Veisamasama, a relative of Kaisau’s, "Apete told a relative in his village that he’d done it, but they shrugged it off because he seemed mentally unstable. Apete then went to stay with family in Nadi. He finally told them to call the police because he felt bad for the innocent people being interrogated."

At his arraignment, Kaisau initially refused legal counsel and was ordered to undergo psychological assessment. It was determined he was mentally fit to stand trial, and he is now represented by Barry Hart, a top New Zealand lawyer.

Veisamasama, a local radio station reporter who became acquainted with Scott during the coup, continues his story "When Apete first befriended John and Greg, his family was unstable, and the couple took him under their wing, offering him guidance and friendship, providing the missing link. At some point a sexual relationship developed between them."

Kaisau had been a promising rugby player in high school, and after graduation he played in New Zealand at a North Harbour club, where "he was building quite a reputation for himself," Veisamasama adds. "But after about two years his game suddenly began to decline." He was then deported— some accounts say the authorities were tipped off by John Scott—back to Fiji for overstaying his visa.

Except for the statement "I can quite firmly say that [the murder] is not political" that Hart made to the press on July I6, Kaisau’s lawyer declined comment on the defense strategy—a practice in keeping with British law, in which attorneys are prohibited from discussing upcoming trials. But Veisamasama surmises that "Apete might insist that it [having sex] was usually while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Upon returning from New Zealand he had also become religious, and he was feeling guilty about the gay sex."

Echoing this delayed-reaction homosexual-panic defense at a press conference just an hour before Kaisau’s arraignment, Commissioner Savua took the highly unprofessional step of becoming, in effect, the prime suspect’s advocate: "Their liaison began when he was still a student. We believe Kaisau had an intense hatred for the way the couple exploited not only him but other youths of Fiji to fulfill their desires. And he did not like the ways they were treating these young children."

Asha Lakhan, a local journalist, explains that "Commissioner Savua was already outraged about pedophilia because of a case several years before where an expat was arrested for exploiting children. Savua was also playing up the white/Fijian divide and trying to create sympathy for Apete before the trial even began."

"We have so many unanswered questions about Kaisau and his motives," says Scrivener’s sister Janice Giles, who believes Kaisau is mentally disturbed. She adds, "There was plenty of alternative motivation other than that given by police and media, but this was rejected outright and to our knowledge not investigated." Her sister Judy says, "I find it hard to believe one person is solely responsible and am confused as to why such immediate and vile character assassination was aimed at Greg and John."

Presumably the truth about the murders will come to light during Apete Kaisau’s trial, though some remain doubtful. As this article goes to press (December 2001), nearly six months after the crime, no firm trial date has been set. But that’s not really surprising; a year and a half after the latest coup took place, its leader, George Speight—who was elected to the parliament while still in prison—has yet to stand trial. Many believe that with the highly nationalistic and corrupt government at the helm, the rebels will receive but a slap on the wrist.

(Note: in August 2003 the suspect was declared ‘insane’ and therefore unfit for trial. See News & Reports #12 on this site.)

John Scott’s memorial service was held in the National Gymnasium on July 11 and was attended by over 1,000 people, including his mother, brother, and son. After a private ceremony in an Anglican church, he was laid to rest beside his grandparents in Lovonilase cemetery. Though Scrivener was Scott’s partner in life for 22 years, due to lack of plot space and the family’s wish for an independent pathology report, his body—along with his pet dog—was returned to his native New Zealand and buried in a lawn cemetery. His tombstone is likely to be engraved with antheriums.

In an article that appeared in the Fiji Times on July 11, Graham Davis, a local journalist, wrote, "John Scott was gay…. He was in a loving relationship with his partner, Greg Scrivener…. But this wasn’t one of his imperfections—just the way he was. And Fiji needs to think long and hard about how it perceives such people. Homophobia is rampant in this country even though gays exist at the highest levels of society. Fiji is riddled with hypocrisy about a lot of things…. For such an ostensibly religious country, this had always been puzzling and never more so than in relation to same-sex relationships."

 

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