LGBT rights in Mauritius

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LGBT rights in Mauritius Mauritius
LocationMauritius.png
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Sodomy illegal
Penalty:
Up to 5 years' imprisonment
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protected
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Mauritius face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Sodomy (opposite-sex and same-sex anal and oral sex) is banned by the laws of the country. Although same-sex relationships are not recognised in Mauritius, LGBT people are protected from any kind of discrimination, with the Constitution guaranteeing the right of individuals to a private life.[1]

Mauritius is one of the 96 countries to have signed the "joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity" at the United Nations, condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.[2]

Furthermore, in recent years, there has been a growing acceptance towards LGBT people among Mauritius' population, with polls indicating that Mauritius is one of Africa's most LGBT-friendly countries.[3] Nevertheless, conservative attitudes about LGBT people are still commonplace, and as such LGBT people may face discrimination and bullying when coming out or accessing healthcare.[4]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

According to an unofficial translation of Section 250 of the Mauritius Criminal Code of 1838, "Any person who is guilty of the crime of sodomy ... shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 5 years."[5]

In 2007, the Law Reform Commission recommended that sodomy be decriminalised and that Section 250 be repealed.[3] Former Attorney General Rama Valayden sought to pass a bill, which would have decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual relationships, but the bill did not go through.[3]

In 2015, a same-sex couple was arrested on the suspicion they were practising sodomy.[4]

In 2017, the Government stated it would not repeal Section 250, but instead announced it would address the issue after further consideration.[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Mauritius does not recognise same-sex marriage or civil unions.

The Law Reform Commission is currently looking into a case to legalise same-sex marriage.[3]

Discrimination protections

The Equal Opportunities Act 2008 prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, education, in access to goods and services and other areas, with "sexual orientation" being defined to mean "homosexuality (including lesbianism), bisexuality or heterosexuality".[7]

Adoption and parenting

According to a 2006 report, adoptive parents may be either single or married. LGBT persons are not specifically disqualified.[8]

According to a website of the French Government, single and married people are eligible to adopt children. The website does not say whether LGBT people are disqualified.[9]

Lesbian couples are allowed to access IVF.[10]

Blood donation

In 2014, the Ministry of Health amended blood donation policy to allow LGBT people to donate blood.[3]

Living conditions

Mauritius is considered to be one of Africa's most LGBT-friendly countries, though LGBT people still face discrimination due to conservatives attitudes among the population.[3] LGBT people still face discrimination, notably in public hospitals and bullying in schools.[4]

Politics

Supporters of LGBT rights include former attorney generals Rama Valayden and Ravi Yerigadoo, former Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, former Leader of the Opposition Paul Bérenger and Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms Alain Wong.

The Opposition already strongly supports the rights of homosexuals as human rights.

— Hon. Paul Bérenger, former Leader of the Opposition

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.

— Hon. Alain Wong, Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms

LGBT rights organisations

In Mauritius, there are four organisations that push for the rights of the LGBT community: Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, Young Queer Alliance, Association VISA G and Pils.[11]

Founded in 2005, Collectif Arc-en-Ciel ("Rainbow Collective") is the pioneer and main organisation for the LGBT community in Mauritius. The group organised the first Gay Pride walk in Mauritius and has been doing so for the last ten years gathering more than 1,200 participants in 2016. The organisation fights homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation through numerous campaigns and also provides support to the young LGBT community.[11] In 2016, the organisation moved the march from a small suburban town to Port Louis, the capital. Radical Islamic groups fired gunshots, and 30 police officers were present at the march.[4]

Founded on 1 September 2014, Young Queer Alliance is an organisation for the young-LGBT community in Mauritius.[12] The Young Queer Alliance engages in support, advocacy and fights homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.[11]

Founded in 1996, Pils is a centre for individuals with HIV/AIDS in the country, and also a place for the prevention and education of people living with HIV/AIDS.[11]

Founded in 2014, Moments.mu became the first travel agency in Mauritius to dedicate their services to the LGBT community.

In June 2018, a gay pride march organised by Collectif Arc-en-Ciel was annuled, because of hundreds of death threats (including threats of mutilation) believed to originate from Islamic extremists. In addition, a counter protest with armed weapons against LGBT rights was organised by Javed Meetoo, a known radical Islamic terrorist already under surveillance, according to Mauritian authorities. Many important religious figures on the island, such as Cardinal Maurice Piat, have firmly condemned the protest against LGBT rights and called for respect and tolerance for all. An LGBT sit-in took place a few days later at the Caudan Waterfront, and with the support of Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.[13]

Public opinion

A 2016 poll found that 49% of Mauritians would like or not mind having an LGBT neighbor.[14]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Up to 5 years imprisonment)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (Since 2008)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2008)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2008)
Same-sex marriages No (Under consideration)[3]
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Has no military
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (Since 2014)

See also

References

  1. ^ The Constitution Archived 6 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Over 80 Nations Support Statement at Human Rights Council on LGBT Rights » US Mission Geneva". Geneva.usmission.gov. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "AFROBAROMETER REPORT SHOWS THAT HOMOPHOBIA IS NOT AFRICAN EVEN IF HOMOPHOBIA REMAINS WIDESPREAD IN AFRICA". Young Queer Alliance. 
  4. ^ a b c d No paradise for Mauritian queers
  5. ^ "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults", International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, authored by Lucas Paoli Itaborahy and Jingshu Zhu, May 2013, page 51 Archived 19 July 2013 at WebCite
  6. ^ Human Rights Committee Considers the Report of Mauritius
  7. ^ "Equal Opportunities Act 2008, International Labor Organization" (PDF). 
  8. ^ "Intercountry Adoption: Mauritius", Passports USA, April 2006
  9. ^ "Fiches pays Adoption: Maurice". France Diplomatie : : Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères. 
  10. ^ Eggseptional | Fertility Clinic | Plaines Wilhems, Mauritius
  11. ^ a b c d "LGBT Mauritius". Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Young Queer Alliance - NGO for young LGBT in Mauritius". www.youngqueeralliance.com. 
  13. ^ Shannon Power (7 June 2018). "Pride leader got hundreds of death threats in just one day in Mauritius". Gay Star News. 
  14. ^ "What are the best and worst countries to be gay in Africa?". 1 March 2016. 

External links

  • Gay Mauritius News & Reports (GlobalGayz)
  • LGBT Mauritius
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