Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
  • Death penalty
Penal Code 1984, Article 308 Act Against Nature

Article 308 criminalises Muslim men who have sex with another man, punishable with death by stoning, albeit Mauritania has observed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 1987. Same-sex intimacy between women is punishable with up to two years imprisonment and a fine.1



The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada report on the treatment of sexual minorities in Mauritania stated that information on the application of the Criminal Code for non-Muslims could not be found.


While the death penalty is retained in the Penal Code, various UN human rights mechanisms have reported that Mauritania has observed a de facto moratorium since 1987.

Persecution and Discrimination


The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Mauritania stated that were no reported cases of abuses based on sexual orientation during the year, though this is likely due to the severity of the stigma and legal penalties against LGBT people, meaning the community is rarely identified or discussed.


The Canadian Immigration Tribunal found reports indicating that a group has been established in Mauritania, “Non à la débauche”, who have called for the “eradication of networks of homosexuals and prostitution”. The organisation has stated that it: “objects to too much tolerance of these criminals, enemies of virtue who must answer for their crimes”. The report includes information on one man who was allegedly stabbed on account of his sexuality.


A 2012 report by Amnesty International found that individuals “faced arbitrary arrest, harassment and discrimination because of their suspected homosexual activity”. In November, 14 men were accused of being homosexual, were arrested and were detained in Dar Naïm prison.

Legislative News


During its second UPR cycle, Mauritania rejected recommendations to abolish the death penalty and decriminalise homosexuality.


During its first UPR cycle, Mauritania rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations, stating: “The Criminal Code, which included penalties for those who had same-sex sexual relations, was based on Muslim sharia law, personal ethics and the specific nature of the country. The relevant provisions would be studied in detail with a view to bringing them into line with international standards… As with the death penalty, corporal punishment had never been practised or carried out. The provisions of Islamic law and special criminal legislation allowed for alternative sentences.”

1. Penal Code 1984, Article 308 Act Against Nature

“Any adult Muslim man who commits an indecent act or an act against nature with an individual of his sex will face the penalty of death by public stoning. If it is a question of two women, they will be punished as prescribed in article 306, first paragraph [3 months to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 to 60,000 UM].” Full text.

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