October 06, 2023

Same-Sex Relationships Decriminalised in Mauritius

Mauritius’ Supreme Court has declared that a longstanding law criminalising same-sex relationships will officially be overturned, as it reflects colonial-era values rather than those of the indigenous people.

The ruling was announced on Wednesday, 4 October, by a two-judge bench who said that the law did not “reflect any indigenous Mauritian values, but was inherited as part of our colonial history from Britain.”

Before the law – which dates back to 1898 – was abolished, individuals could face up to five years in prison if they were convicted of sodomy. Despite the law appearing to be largely obsolete in practice, legal threats against homosexuality still left many communities living in fear.

Human rights groups and UNAIDS (the United Nations agency in charge of combating HIV/AIDS) have praised the move, as it is a step towards fighting stigma and discrimination of the LGBTQ community.

Regional director of UNAIDS, Anne Githuku-Shongwe, was particularly happy with the ruling as she told an international publication the following day that many people “will have much easier access to the health and social services they need without fear of arrest or criminalisation.”

Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, who originally brought the case forward in Mauritius, also added that he is “now free to love whoever I want to without fear.”

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