Social Issues

HRW calls for repeal of Maldives laws criminalizing homosexuality

New Delhi, Aug 11 (EFE).- Nonprofit Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Maldives authorities to revoke the laws that criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex, in the backdrop of four people, including the brother of former president Mohamed Nasheed, being arrested under the legislation.

“The government should repeal laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations, which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, migrants and tourists, and are a recipe for abuse,” Graeme Reid, the director of HRW’s LGBT Rights Program, said in a statement.

The nonprofit has highlighted the law after on Jul. 28 the police arrested three men, including Nazim Sattar – the brother of lawmaker and the speaker of the parliament Nasheed – for having sex with other men.

“The inquiries and arrests were apparently based on leaked videos and screengrabs that allegedly depicted the men having sex with a Bangladeshi man, who had been arrested on July 12,” the statement said.

The Bangladeshi citizen was arrested for “unlawful sex” and recording the videos.

According to British lawyer Kirsty Brimelow, who has defended Nasheed in court in the past, her client had approached the Maldivian police to lodge a complaint after being blackmailed over the videos’ content.

However, he found that “they were more interested in prosecuting him for the subject matter of the blackmail,” she tweeted.

“He is an alleged victim of a serious crime and should be given protection as appropriate for a blackmail victim,” the renowned lawyer said referring to Sattar a day after his arrest.

Nasheed has alleged that the targeted arrest of his brother on homosexuality charges went against criminal procedures and was a politically motivated attempt by the government to pacify hardline Islamists who oppose him.

Apart from arresting the four men, authorities have said that they were investigating 38 people, who participated in “unlawful” sex with the same man, following videos found in the phone possessed by the Bangladeshi citizen.

The authorities have seized the passports of 18 people linked with the police investigations, HRW said.

Reid urged the government of Maldives to “immediately drop the unjust and apparently politically motivated investigations, and instead abide by international standards on rights protections.”

As per Maldivian laws, based both in the criminal code and Shariah or Islamic law, sexual relations between people of the same sex and homosexual relations are punishable by up to eight years in prison and 100 lashes, although sentences for these charges are hardly ever imposed. EFE


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