Four gay men on the island of Mauritius are fighting to repeal an archaic Colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality.
The small island nation of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, about 2,000 kilometers off the south-east coast of Africa.
Najeeb Ahmad Fokeerbux is from Mauritian LGBTIQ group Young Queer Alliance. He’s one of the four advocates challenging the archaic anti-gay law, Section 250, in the country’s Supreme Court.
Section 250, which punishes gay sex with up to five years in jail, is rarely enforced.
But homosexuality is taboo in Mauritius and Fokeerbux says the law encourages intolerance and homophobia.
“Gay and bisexual men face a lot of physical and verbal violence in society,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“It manifests itself on the roads, in educational settings especially in schools, even while you are travelling on the bus.
“People can just start shouting abuse or even attacking you.”
Mauritius LGBTIQ rights campaigners
Last year, Mauritius cancelled its annual Pride march after hundreds of violents threats from anti-LGBTIQ campaigners. Some quoted section 250, organisers said at the time.
“Many LGBT+ people and others do not want to come on holiday to a country where they cannot relax and be free,” Fokeerbux told Reuters.
“By scrapping the law, Mauritius will be telling the world that all people are welcome and that they can come and be safe here.
“We know that homophobia won’t end with the law being scrapped. But it’s a step in the right direction.
“All we want is the same rights are everyone else. The right to choose the partner we want, the right to have the freedom to love who we want.
“The right to live with them in dignity.”
Activists in other countries around the world are also fighting to repeal colonial-era laws criminalising homosexuality.
Last week, a gay man in Singapore filed a new legal challenge against Singapore’s law criminalising gay sex.
A year ago, India’s Supreme Court struck down a very similar law to Singapore’s banning gay sex in India.
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