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Ryan Ah Seek remporte une victoire juridique historique

Version anglaise / English Version

On 4 October 2023, in an historic legal victory, the Supreme Court has ruled that Section 250 of the Mauritius Penal Code is unconstitutional insofar as it criminalises consensual male same-sex activity and should be removed from the lawbooks.

Abdool Ridwan Firaas (Ryan) Ah Seek, a gay man and prominent LGBT human rights activist, filed the case seeking to strike down the discriminatory law, which dated back to 1838 and was a colonial-era relic criminalizing same-sex intimacy between men with punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment.

Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek was represented by a Mauritian legal team composed of Gavin Glover Senior Counsel, Yanilla Moonshira, barrister-at-law and Komadhi Mardemootoo, attorney-at-law, with support from the Human Dignity Trust, Tim Otty QC, founder of the Human Dignity Trust, and Herbert Smith Freehills. The case was originally filed in October 2019.

Mr Ah Seek was supported in his endeavour by the Collectif Arc-En-Ciel (CAEC), the largest and longest-standing organisation in Mauritius championing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Mr Ah Seek has recently been elected President of the CAEC. 

Mr Ah Seek said: “It has been a long battle and receiving this judgment in my favour is an enormous relief. From today, as a citizen and a human being, I am now free to love whoever I want without fear. Above all, it also means that the next generations can fully and freely embrace their sexuality without fear of being arrested. This victory is undoubtedly a major step towards the full inclusion of our community in Mauritian society.”

He further added: “I wish to express my gratitude to my legal team. I am also immensely grateful to the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel and the Human Dignity Trust for their support over the past three years. This is a collective victory.”

Dimitry Ah-Yu, vice-president of the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel’s (CAEC), said:

“This is an historic day for our organization and the entire LGBT community in Mauritius. Social change takes time. Let us not forget that Section 250 dates back to 1838! We salute Ryan Ah Seek for his courage and the Supreme Court for choosing inclusion and human rights over conservatism and reprobation. At the CAEC, we believe that it should be a collective responsibility to stand against discrimination and defend fundamental human rights.”

Téa Braun, the Human Dignity Trust’s Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted to have supported Ryan, his local legal team and the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel in this landmark case and we congratulate them for making Mauritius a better place for all citizens. This decision finally topples 185 years of state-sanctioned stigma against LGBT people in Mauritius and sends yet another important message to the remaining criminalising countries in Africa and beyond: these laws must go.”

65 countries across the world still criminalize LGBT people. Today, Mauritius joins other African nations such as Botswana, South Africa and Seychelles who have boldly removed outdated, colonial-era criminalizing provisions from their lawbooks. 

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