Mauritius decriminalises gay sex: 1 down, 65 to go


mauritius
Image: Collectif Arc-En-Ciel Twitter

65 countries worldwide continue to criminalise LGBTQIA+ people after the Supreme Court of Mauritius declared the country’s ban on same-sex intimacy unconstitutional.

The court ruled on two cases challenging the British colonial law that made sodomy between men a jailable offence.

Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, president of LGBTQIA+ organisation Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, and four men supported by the Young Queer Alliance brought the two cases.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court found for the plaintiffs in both cases, effectively decriminalising gay sex.

Colonial Import

The judges emphasised that the law criminalising gay sex was a colonial import.

Section 250 of the nation’s criminal codes did not reflect Indigenous Mauritian values. Indeed, Mauritius inherited the law as part of its colonial history from Britain.

“Its enactment was not the expression of domestic democratic will, but a course imposed on Mauritius and other colonies by British rule.”

The court ruled that a plaintiff’s sexual orientation is “natural and innate… cannot be altered, and is a natural variant of his sexuality.”

The judges also stated that sodomy offered the only natural way for homosexual men to have sexual intercourse. Heterosexual men, they said, can legally have sexual intercourse in a way that is natural to them.

Elsewhere in southern Africa: the Namibian High Court will address the decriminalisation of sodomy at the end of this month. In contrast to the rest of the continent, few southern African countries now criminalise gay sex.

Human Dignity Trust

The Human Dignity Trust works in countries across the world to reform laws that discriminate against LGBT+ people. It supported Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek in his case before the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

Chief Executive of the trust, Téa Bruan, said the ruling sends an important message beyond Mauritius.

“This decision finally topples 185 years of state-sanctioned stigma against LGBT people in Mauritius and sends yet another important message to the remaining criminalising countries in Africa and beyond: these laws must go.”

Check out the Human Dignity Trust’s Map of Criminalisation.

Elsewhere in Africa:

Botswana decriminalises homosexuality.

Gabon decriminalises homosexuality.

Ugandan President signs anti-LGBTQ+ death penalty law.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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