Words: Steve Brown
Four men in Mauritius are fighting to repeal an archaic colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality.
The small island in the Indian Ocean still utilises Section 250, a law that punishes gay sex with up to five years in jail.
Although the law is rarely enforced, homosexuality is still taboo and now four men are taking a stand to repeal the Colonial-era law.
Najeeb Ahmad Fokeerbux is part of the Mauritian LGBTQI group, Young Queer Alliance, and is one of the four men advocating for change saying the law encourages intolerance and homophobia.
While speaking to Thomson Reuters Foundation, he said: “Gay and bisexual men face a lot of physical and verbal violence in society.
“It manifests itself on the roads, in educational settings especially in schools, even while you are travelling on the bus.
“People can just start shouting abuse or even attacking you.”
Last year, after hundreds of violent threats from anti-LGBTQ campaigners – many of whom quoted Section 250 – Mauritius cancelled its annual Pride march.
Fokeerbux went on to say that many LGBTQ travellers do not come to the island out of fear over discrimination.
He continued: “Many LGBT+ people and others do not want to come on holiday to a country where they cannot relax and be free.
“By scrapping the law, Mauritius will be telling the world that all people are welcome and that they can come and be safe here.
“We know that homophobia won’t end with the law being scrapped. But it’s a step in the right direction.
“All we want is the same rights are everyone else. The right to choose the partner we want, the right to have the freedom to love who we want.
“The right to live with them in dignity.