Mauritius repeals colonial-era law against gay sex

Maurice repeals the anti-gay sex law from the colonial era.

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PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS- The LGBTQ community of the Indian Ocean island nation has hailed the top court in Mauritius’ historic decision to decriminalize gay sex as a victory.

The isolated paradise island, which is well-liked by tourists, has a history of hosting gay events and is known for its tolerance.

However, a law from the British colonial era that dates back to 1898 gave sodomy convictions up to five years in prison.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench ruled on Wednesday that Section 250 was inherited from Britain as part of our colonial history rather than being introduced in Mauritius to reflect native Mauritian values.

We hereby declare that the Criminal Code’s Section 250 ( 1 ) is unconstitutional.

Members of the gay community filed a legal challenge, claiming that the law violated fundamental liberties, including the right to liberty.

Rights organizations and UNAIDS, the UN agency in charge of fighting HIV / AIDS and HIV, praised the decision on Wednesday, saying it would save lives.

According to Anne Githuku-Shongwe, a regional director for UNAIDS, the change” will make it much simpler for men who have sex with men to access the health and social services they need without fear of arrest or criminalization.”

However, she continued, there was still work to be done to combat prejudice and stigma against the LGBTQ community.

The decision comes as an anti-gay crackdown is engulfing East Africa, which has a long history of discrimination against gays that conservative Muslims and Christians frequently encourage.

Gay sex is still illegal under colonial-era laws in Kenya and Tanzania, and the punishments include up to 14-year prison terms.

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Contrary to neighboring countries like Somalia, where convictions are uncommon, gay rights organizations have been permitted to operate in Kenya despite legal threats against homosexuality.

Huge anti-gay legislation that calls for harsh new penalties for same-sex relationships was passed by Uganda’s presidential parliament in May.

The law, which is regarded as one of the strictest of its kind in the world, includes provisions for consensual same-sex relationships lasting up to life in prison as well as making” aggravated homosexuality” a potentially capital offense.

Nearly half of Mauritius’ 1.3 million residents identify as Hindu, with just under a third of them being Christians and the rest as Muslims.

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