Island Nation Supreme Court assesses constitutionality of anti-LGBT law – Clear 76 crimes

The Supreme Court of the island nation of Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa, is deliberating on whether to overturn the country’s law which provides for up to five years in prison for sodomy.

Abdool Ridwan Firaas (Ryan) Ah Seek (Photo courtesy of 5plus)

Mauritius LGBT rights group Collectif Arc-En-Ciel reported:

Mauritius Supreme Court hears key evidence in case challenging constitutionality of discriminatory law targeting LGBT people

November 16, 2021 – A crucial hearing in a case challenging the constitutionality of Article 250, brought by Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, a 31-year-old human rights activist, took place today before the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

Mr. Ah Seek was supported in his business by the Collectif Arc-En-Ciel (CAEC), the largest and oldest organization in Mauritius that defends the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. ).

The current version of Section 250 dates back to 1838 and is a relic of Mauritius’ colonial past. Those convicted under this law could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Location of Mauritius east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.  (Map courtesy of Google and MauritiusInsideOut.com)
Location of Mauritius east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. (Map courtesy of Google and MauritiusInsideOut.com)

During his testimony in court, Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek said: “Because of this law, the threat of arrest constantly hangs over my head. It’s like the sword of Damocles. I’m just a normal person, I pay my taxes. I don’t want to be seen as a criminal.

In an interview after the hearing, Gavin Glover SC, who represented Mr Ah Seek, said: “We are very pleased that, for the first time in history, the Supreme Court has heard a case challenging the constitutionality of the ‘Article 250 on the substance. This is already a great victory. Given the convincing evidence of the repeal of this law provided by our witnesses today, I think we can hope for a positive result.

Also presenting as a witness today, Nicolas Ritter, communications director of Coalition Plus, a regional network working on HIV prevention, and former executive director and founder of Prévention Information Lutte contre le SIDA (PILS), the organization the most important in Mauritius working on the response to HIV, said: “Article 250 is a barrier to access to health care in Mauritius. It makes LGBT people invisible because they are afraid of the law, and it makes our work in HIV prevention and treatment more difficult because we cannot reach them. ‘

“Today, by courageously taking the stand as a witness, Mr. Ah Seek has shown that the way adults conduct their lives in close and consensual relationships in the privacy of their own homes should never be an issue. state interference. Archaic laws like article 250 have no place in our modern, diverse and democratic society, ”said Muriel Yvon, president of the CAEC. “It is our greatest hope that the Supreme Court relegates this law to the history books and that our country can finally live up to its reputation as a rainbow nation, where every citizen is treated fairly, fair and dignified, ”she added. .

The case was originally filed in the Supreme Court on October 25, 2019. The next hearing of the case is expected to take place in early 2022.

Founded in 2005, the Collectif Arc-en Ciel (CAEC) is the first non-governmental organization in Mauritius to fight against all forms of hatred, discrimination and violence related to gender identity and sexual orientation. The CAEC is an interested party in this matter.

Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek is represented by a Mauritius legal team made up of Gavin Glover SC, Yanilla Moonshiram, lawyers, and Komadhi Mardemootoo, lawyer.

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