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Parliament passes bill to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations

18 May 2016

Seychelles’ National Assembly passed an amendment to the penal code that decriminalises consensual same-sex sexual relations. The amendment came into force after two weeks upon being gazetted by the Attorney General’s office. A lawyer from Seychelles explained to us that the President had 14 days to assent to the bill but if he did not, it is deemed to be assented to.

Out of 28 members present for the vote, 14 voted in favour while the other half abstained. Four members were not present for the vote. The proposal was first made by President James Michel in his State of the Nation address.

“Our Constitution clearly states that all persons are equal, […] so I do not see why we should discriminate against a specific group based on their sexual orientation,” a lawmaker was quoted by Seychelles News Agency as saying.

This occassion was documented by Iranti-Org, a queer human rights visual media organisation, in this insightful video interview of leading local activist Ronny Arnephy from LGBTI Sey. 

Before this amendment, any person found guilty of ‘Unnatural Offences’ under Section 151 of the Penal Code could have been sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. As the Human Dignity Trust’s Seychelles country report documents, several officials of the government had expressed views in support of repealing Section 151. During its 2011 Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council, Seychelles accepted recommendations to repeal all provisions in its domestic law criminalising consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex.  The delegation from Seychelles also noted that article 27 of the Constitution prohibited discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, including sexual orientation.  Further, the delegation clarified that only non-consensual same-sex intercourse was an offence.

 

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