By Melanie Nathan, October 04, 2023
In a huge victory for global LGBTQI+ rights, the Island nation of Mauritius Supreme Court has ruled law criminalizing same-sex relations is unconstitutional.
In the judgment, the Supreme Court judges underlined the constitutionally protected right to non-discrimination, stating, inter alia, "The present case concerns the most private and intimate aspects of the identity of homosexual men, namely the manner in which they have sexual intercourse. Accordingly, there must exist particularly serious reasons for the State to justifiably interfere with the manner in which homosexual men choose to have consensual sexual intercourse in private."
The decision ends a 185 year state sanctioned law that has served to persecute LGBTI people in Mauritius whether directly or through the violence it serves to license. While African Human Rights Coalition applauds the judgement, we do so with caution, noting that entrenched anti-homosexuality sentiment takes a while to catch up with the law and hence Mauritius still has a way to go in terms of country societal sentiment. We applaud the work of Collectif Arc-en-Ciel in this landmark case and we congratulate them for setting Mauritius on the path to healing from draconian laws. The 2019 case, brought by Abdool Ridwan (Ryan) Firaas Ah Seek challenged the constitutionality of Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code, which dated back to 1838. The provision criminalized ‘sodomy’ and anyone convicted could face a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. We would also be remiss to fail to note that this decision comes amidst a trend going in the opposite direction, where other countries on the continent are seeing heightened and more punitive anti-LGBTI laws being enacted.
READ THE JUDGEMENT HERE: