Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, the president of the local LGBT+ organization Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, challenged the constitutionality of Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code, a hundreds-year-old provision (the law was inherited from the British during the colonial period) that criminalized gay sex between consenting adults with consequences up to five years in prison. With support from the Human Dignity Trust in London, Section 250 was declared discriminatory and unconstitutional in a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of Mauritius. The judgement was delivered today, and the Supreme Court emphasized that Mauritius is a democratic secular state and therefore has no justifiable reason to police the private lives of LGBT+ citizens.
Pliny Soocoormanee, Executive Officer at the Peter Tatchell Foundation and gay Mauritian, said he was ‘overjoyed’ at the decision in an email.
He wrote: “I am overjoyed that after 185 years of LGBTs being criminalised in Mauritius, this homophobic law has finally come to an end. We were never asking for special treatment – just equality and respect. Mauritius may be small but the message this sends to the world is huge. Criminalisation in every country belongs in the past. As a gay Mauritian, this day will live with me forever.”
According to the email from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, the Mauritian Supreme Court judges further acknowledged that the plaintiff’s sexual orientation is “natural and innate… cannot be altered and is a natural variant of his sexuality.”
The court distinctly ruled that Section 250 of the criminal code is discriminatory and unconstitutional as “it criminalises the only natural way for him and other homosexual men to have sexual intercourse, whereas heterosexual men are permitted the right to have sexual intercourse in a way which is natural to them.”
“This victory brings the number of jurisdictions that still criminalise LGBT people to 65. Mauritius now joins other African nations such as South Africa, Botswana, Seychelles, Angola and Mozambique in eradicating similar colonial-era criminalising provisions from their lawbooks,” said Téa Braun, Human Dignity Trust’s Chief Executive.