The island nation of Seychelles is preparing to fulfill a promise it made five years ago to repeal its anti-gay law.
The unenforced law provides for prison sentences of up to 14 years for same-sex intimacy between men.
The nation, located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar, committed itself to repeal in a statement to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 2011.
Once its plan is realized, Seychelles will become the third African country in recent years that has decriminalized homosexuality. Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of Africa, with a population of 24 million, did so in 2014. The tiny nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, in the Atlantic Ocean off the shores of central Africa, dropped its anti-LGBT law in 2012.
Members of Seychelles’ national assembly will be asked to consider a bill to decriminalise homosexuality in the coming months.
More than 60 years after the introduction of the law criminalizing homosexuality, the president of Seychelles in this year’s State of the Nation address announced he wants to see the law changed.
The law was introduced in 1955, when Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, was still a British colony.
The Seychelles’ cabinet of ministers on Monday agreed to repeal this law, which was applied in rare exceptions before 1992 in the island nation with a population of 93,000.
The dossier was referred to the Attorney General Ronny Govinden to work on the changes of the text.
The text will be presented to parliament members in the coming weeks as President James Michel has since his election, on December 18, accelerated reforms in the country.
The decision of Seychelles to withdraw the law penalizing homosexuality would also be in line with various international conventions the country has signed, like the declaration of human rights, which prohibits all discrimination.
The issue was again raised during the country’s universal periodic review (UPR), which took place January in Geneva, Switzerland.
“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,” said Govinden.
The Seychelles Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Barry Faure said: “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.”
The Attorney General rejected the idea to submit this law in a referendum.
“This is a simple amendment to the penal Code which can be done by the National Assembly and this avoids conflict,” he said, adding that, “this amendment will just decriminalize homosexuality in Seychelles.”
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