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Seychelles repeals colonial-era law banning gay sex

Nick Duffy May 18, 2016

Popular holiday destination the Seychelles is opening its arms to LGBT people – passing a law to legalise gay sex.

Section 151 of the country’s Penal Code states that a man who has sex with a man “against the order of nature” can be jailed for up to fourteen years.

The law is a hang-over from British colonial rule, and convictions are already very rare – but the Seychelles had pushed to scrap the law entirely.

The country has seen a boon in European tourism after the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William and Catherine – spent their honeymoon there in 2011.

Tourism accounts for nearly 20% of GDP – and the industry employs 15 percent of the country’s workforce. However, it has largely remained a ‘no-go’ area for LGBT tourism due to the penal code

The country’s Parliament this week passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

It says: “This Bill seeks to amend section 151 of the Penal Code in order to decriminalise unnatural offences specified.

“The President has in his State of the Nation Address highlighted the need to abolish the provisions in our laws that criminalise homosexuality between consenting adults in view of the United Nations Human Rights obligation of Seychelles. In 2011 Seychelles accepted to implement the recommendation of the Universal Periodic Review towards the decriminalisation of same sex relationships.

“To fulfil that said obligation, it is necessary to repeal the aforesaid provisions.”

LGBT rights group ARC International welcomed the news – which came on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The country’s Attorney General Ronny Govinden had acknowledged that international pressure had been a factor in moving forward on the issue, saying: “It is a priority for the country because whenever the Seychelles is participating in an international convention… we face pressures from other countries who are asking us to remove this law.”

He added: “This is a simple amendment to the penal Code which can be done by the National Assembly and this avoids conflict.

“This amendment will just decriminalize homosexuality in Seychelles.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Barry Faure specifically noted pressures from the UK government, adding: “Seychelles was committed in 2011 to review the law on homosexuality and this had not been done and Britain questions us saying that we have not made progress on this issue.”

Baroness Anelay, the UK’s Human Rights minister, explained to PinkNews this week how the UK government lobbies for LGBT rights across the world.

More: Africa, Anti-gay, colonial, era, Gay, Law, LGBT, Sex, sexuality, Seychelles, Seychelles

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