Types of criminalisation

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

Article 308 prohibits Muslim men from having sex with someone of the same sex with a penalty of death by stoning. Women are punished with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment and a fine for same-sex sexual activity.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, in its second UPR cycle, the Mauritania state delegation noted that it had 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 studies 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.” Full text.

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