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Gay Prize - Trip To Anti-Gay Resort

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Gay Prize - Trip To Anti-Gay Resort

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

May 30, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Auckland) New Zealand's national LGBT film festival is under fire for offering new members a chance to win a prize to Fiji.

Out Takes presents festivals in the country's three largest cities. To boost membership it has been offering people who sign up a chance to win a five day holiday for two adults at a Fijian resort

But LGBT activists are blasting the festival for offing a trip to one of the most homophobic areas in the region.

Although Fiji's Constitution bans discrimination on the basis of sexuality, consenting homosexual sex is illegal - punishable by imprisonment. The country also bars people with HIV/AIDS.

"Why would we encourage people to spend their money in Fiji when they discriminate against people living with HIV and Aids," asked Bruce Kilmister, chair of Body Positive.

"I just note the irony."

Some LGBT rights activists are calling for a boycott of the festival.

Out Takes is defending the contest.

"While we recognize that there is a high incidence of homophobia and related persecution in Fiji. . . we also recognize that it is incumbent on the queer community to stand up and be present in the face of unjustified persecution," the group said in a statement to LGBT Web site GayNZ.com.

The organization said that boycotting the film festival would not advance the cause of equality.

Gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison with hard labor.

Last year an Australian and a Fiji local were arrested for consensual sex. Thomas McCoskar, 55, and Dhirendra Nadan, 23, were convicted. The magistrate described their behavior as ``something so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit.''

The case was later overturned on appeal following an international outcry.

Attacks on gays in Fiji are common, with police often refusing to investigate. In 2001 John Scott, the head of the Fiji Red Cross, and his New Zealand partner Greg Scrivener were murdered.

On Monday the Methodist Church, the largest Protestant denomination in Fiji, called on the government to remove the reference to sexuality from the Constitution.

Church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca said pastors were concerned the reference promoted immorality. Earlier in the day another Methodist minister said that homosexuality was "was against the holy law of creation.".

©365Gay.com 2006


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