Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
Commonwealth member state
Criminal Code 1838, S. 250 Sodomy and Bestiality

Section 250 criminalises sodomy with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. The law is applicable only to men.1

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Mauritius states that “the law does not specifically criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. It criminalizes sodomy, however, among both same-sex and heterosexual couples. Authorities rarely used the sodomy statute against same-sex couples, unless one of the partners cited sodomy in the context of sexual assault.”

2013

The US Department of State Human Rights Report states that while cases do occasionally reach the courts, they “almost exclusively involve heterosexual persons”, with cases being brought against gay people only where one person is alleged to have been assaulted.

Statements by Public Figures

2018

In December, Mr Maneesh Gobin, Mauritius’ Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Institutional Reforms, announced that the government will work in close collaboration with the Human Dignity Trust and the Equality & Justice Alliance based in the UK with regards to LGBT rights as well as set up a Human Rights Database. He made this statement during the launching ceremony of a series of video clips for an awareness campaign on human rights in the context of Human Rights Day.

2017

In August, Jonathan Drew, the former British High Commissioner to Mauritius, said in an interview: “Mauritius has not been able to do away with the terrible colonial-era law of discrimination against gays… But I hope that Mauritians in general will have enough respect for human dignity for that to change in the future.”

2016

In February, Alain Wong, Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms, stated: “Let us be clear. Everybody is equal. No-one has more rights than others and there should not citizens of first or second category. Therefore, we should all join hands and work together to ensure that there is no discrimination against anyone. Gender, sexual orientation, color, creed, social status and even handicaps should not be an obstacle.”

Let us be clear. Everybody is equal. No-one has more rights than others and there should not citizens of first or second category.

Alain Wong, Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms

2011

In June, then opposition leader, Paul Bérenger, raised a Private Notice Question in Parliament as to whether the Government proposed to amend domestic laws discriminating against homosexuals. The Prime Minister replied that the Government would await the study to be commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, followed by a panel discussion to be convened by the Human Rights Council. Thereafter, a Select Committee would be set up at national level to study the matter and to determine which amendments should be brought to domestic law.

Bérenger has been quoted as stating that: “the Opposition already strongly supports the rights of homosexuals as human rights.”

Persecution and Discrimination

2018

Annual Pride celebrations were marred by counter-protests and threats of violence. For the first time in its 12-year history, organisers of Pride decided to move it to the Mauritian capital Port Louis, to accommodate more people. Previously it had been held in Beau-Bassin Rose-Hill. The Pride march was threatened by a group of about 500 Muslims, some of whom were reportedly carrying weapons. The angry group threatened that they would attack the Pride if it marched. In response, organisers, on the advice of the police, cancelled the march at the last minute. A number of death threats were made following the event. Carou Labonne, a member of queer rights group Collectif Arc-en-Ciel (Rainbow Collective), said: “Shortly before we were to have the event, someone took to social media, using a fake account, and posted a picture that was taken at this year’s London Pride. The picture showed someone holding a poster reading ‘Allah is gay’.” Hundreds of death threats were received by LGBT organisations, activists and members of the media covering the event. Pauline Verner, Manage of Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, received a number of violent, personal death threat.

2017

In an interview, Pauline Verner said that that the law is silent on LGBT rights. She mentioned that LGBT persons are not getting arrested, but they are exposed to harassment. She added: “Same-sex unions are not recognised, and sodomy is illegal and this is enforced in some cases. In 2015, one couple rented a bungalow in the north and the police came to check if they were smoking weed… They weren’t, but were arrested on suspicion of practising sodomy. The couple said yes, they’re gay and they have sex – they pleaded guilty. It was intimidation.”

The US Department of State Human Rights Report states that in 2015, police officers arbitrarily arrested a transgender person for wearing women’s clothing. She was slapped, threatened, forced to strip, and later released without charge.

2013

Following a complaint about the questionnaire used by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to prohibit blood donation from LGBT persons, the ministry amended its policy and website in 2013 to indicate individuals who have had same-sex sexual activity could donate blood.

Victims of LGBT-based discrimination have reported incidents to the NGO, Collectif Arc-en- Ciel, but have generally refused to report cases to police for fear of ostracism or reprisal.

Legislative News

2018

In the summary of stakeholders submissions on Mauritius report during its third UPR cycle, the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel reported that no legal sanctions had been taken against anti-LGBT protesters who had threatened violence against persons attending the annual Pride march, despite the presence of police. The Collectif also recommended that Mauritius amend discriminatory definitions in the Mauritian legislation to include same-sex couples on the same basis as spouses of opposite sexes and that the state allow for legal recognition of self-identified gender under national law without the need for surgery and related medical procedures.

2015

The Collectif Arc-en-Ciel has organised a series of activities to raise awareness of their goals as a community. Their main aim is to legalise sodomy.

2014

During its second UPR cycle, in response to calls from Canada and Australia to remove those provisions which criminalise homosexuality, Mauritius responded: “[the]Government has not yet taken any policy decision regarding the decriminalization of sodomy. In view of the sensitivity of the issue, further consultations are required.”

2012

In January, the Equal Opportunities Act 2008 came into force. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, among other statuses, in employment and education, and with respect to the provision of goods or services, and accommodation, among other areas. Other similar legislation includes the Employment Rights Act 2008 (as amended) and the Employment Relations Act 2008 (as amended). Both Acts prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Footnotes
1. Criminal Code 1838, S. 250 Sodomy and Bestiality

“Any person who is guilty of the crime of sodomy or bestiality shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 5 years.” Full text.

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