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The Seychelles Exempt Anal Intercourse from Punishment
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of May 22, 2016) On May 19, 2016, the National Assembly of the Seychelles voted to “exempt the unnatural actions mentioned in paragraphs a and c of section 151 of the penal code from punishment.” This refers to anal intercourse and incitement to anal intercourse.
14 deputies voted for the amendment and 14 abstained. Four deputies were not present during the vote.
Now this bill needs to be signed by the head of state, ratified by the parliament and published by the government gazette.
This initiative is based on a proposition made on February 16, 2016 by James Michel, the president of the Seychelles, following a program by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UPR = Universal Periodic Review), whose goal is to legalize homosexual relations and exempt them from punishment. Actually, the laws to punish homosexuals have not been applied for many years, and last year, the 93,000 inhabitants of the archipelago applauded the gay marriage of a British citizen and a Seychellois.
This is the aforementioned speech of February 16, 2016 by president Michel (in French, Creole and English):
Section 151 dates back to the colonial times and punishes homosexual acts by up to 14 years of prison.
The People’s Party has 31 deputies, which means that only less than half of them supported the head of state’s initiative.
Francesca Monnaie, the new opposition leader in the parliament, also expressed her opinion to abrogate this outdated section. Here is the official position of her party (Popular Democratic Movement):
« Notre Constitution énonce clairement que tous les individus sont égaux et c’est ce que prône notre parti. Je ne vois donc pas pourquoi nous devrions discriminer un groupe spécifique de personnes en fonction de leur orientation sexuelle […]. Les gens devraient savoir que cela n’a rien à voir avec la morale, la religion ou la culture. » (“Our constitution clearly says that all individuals are equal, which our party supports. Therefore I cannot see why we should discriminate a particular group of people based on their sexual orientation […]. People should know that this has nothing to do with morals, religion or culture.”)
The majority of the Seychellois people (about 76%) are Catholics. The religious leaders of the archipelago had campaigned against the abrogation of this section.
Fabianna Bonne, founder of the only LGBT organization of the Seychelles, is very happy and explains the main goal of her association:
« L’égalité complète dans tous les aspects de la citoyenneté, car après tout, nous payons nos impôts comme tout le monde et nous participons activement au développement de notre pays. » (“Complete equality in all aspects of citizenship because in the end, we pay our taxes just like anyone else and we actively participate in the development of our country.”)
Comment: President James Michel explained that this step was made upon international pressure. It was a good idea to start a legislative project because the result of a referendum would have been completely open. They Seychelles are a popular tourist destination, and it remains to be seen whether gays will soon be as welcome as straight tourists.