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October 6, 2011

IconSeychelles to decriminalise homosexuality

The government of Seychelles has indicated that it will take action to recognise lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights following pressure from the United Nations.

The African island nation declared its intention to the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review, a process by which the human rights record of member states is scrutinised.

“The Constitution of Seychelles makes provision for all persons to be free from discrimination on all grounds,” declared Sandra Michel, a Secondary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Seychelles.

“Article 27 of the Constitution states that ‘Every person has a right to equal protection of the law including the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in this Charter without discrimination on any ground except as is necessary in a democratic society.’ The one provision in the Penal Code for ‘sodomy’ does not directly discriminate homosexuals as it is intended for penalizing the offence of sodomy as such. In any case this provision has never been applied against anyone.”

Michel clarified that the sodomy law, a legacy of British colonialism, will be repealed “soon” following a question from the Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network. The law is believed to outlaw same-sex relations between men.

In a surprising move, Michel also announced the Seychelles’ intention to pass new laws outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Government will decide as to when and to what extend the legislation could be amended to better guarantee the Constitutional precept that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons are not to be discriminated in Seychelles,” she said.

This “change of relevant laws would come pretty soon, as the government and civil society want so.”

[via LGBT Asylum News]

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Ruth Pearce

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