Press statement

The United Nations welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize same sex relations in Mauritius

This will speed up progress to end the AIDS pandemic and save lives.

GENEVA, 4 October 2023—The United Nations in Mauritius—which includes UNAIDS, UNFPA, OHCHR, UNDP and WHO—welcome today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Mauritius that a discriminatory law criminalizing consensual same sex relations is unconstitutional and will be immediately struck from the legal code. Previously, under Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code (which dated back to 1898) anyone convicted could have faced up to five years in prison.

“The Supreme Court today overturned an obsolete colonial law and demonstrated its commitment to non-discrimination and leaving no-one behind,” said Lisa Singh, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mauritius. “The UN in Mauritius and internationally welcomes the decision of Mauritius to join the growing list of African countries protecting the human rights of everyone, including LGBTQI+ people.”

The ruling noted that “Section 250 was not introduced in Mauritius to reflect any indigenous Mauritian values but was inherited as part of our colonial history from Britain. Its enactment was not the expression of domestic democratic will, but was a course imposed on Mauritius and other colonies by British rule.” It also noted that a growing number of countries have decriminalized consensual same sex sexual relations, including the United Kingdom which overturned its law in 1967. 

“Mauritius' decision to decriminalize homosexuality is an important step forward for public health and a step towards equal rights, respect and dignity for the LGBTQI community,” said Anne Githuku-Shongwe, Director of UNAIDS’ Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa. “UNAIDS applauds Mauritius for today’s decision which will mean that men who have sex with men will have much easier access to the health and social services they need without fear of arrest or criminalization. Work will need to continue to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination towards the LGBTQI community, but today’s ruling is a positive step in the right direction. It will save lives.”

Mauritius becomes the latest in a growing list of countries to declare that laws which have criminalized LGBTQI people are unconstitutional. However, UNAIDS estimates that 66 countries still have laws which criminalize consensual same sex relations. In addition to contravening the human rights of LGBTQI people, these laws impede access to health and social services, including HIV services. Such laws fuel stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI people and put them under constant fear of being punished or detained.

The case was brought forward by Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, President of Arc-en-Ciel, the largest and longest-standing organisation in Mauritius championing the human rights of LGBTQI people, and was supported by partners including the Human Dignity Trust.

Civil society organizations, especially community-led organizations, are at the forefront of a global wave of progress that advances access to health for all. UNAIDS urges all countries to decriminalise same sex sexual relations. Decriminalization saves and changes lives.

Maneesh Gobin, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Mauritius said, “In keeping with its internationally acclaimed respect for the rule of law, Mauritius will indeed report to United Nations Member States at the next cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.” The Universal Periodic Review is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council that calls for each UN Member State to undergo a peer review of its human rights records every 4.5 years.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Sophie Barton-Knott
tel. +41 79 514 6896

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