The Stance of Homosexuality in Mauritania

August 26, 2023

In many parts of the world, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face various challenges due to societal, cultural, and legal factors. The situation is no different in the northwest African country of Mauritania, where the topic of homosexuality remains a sensitive and divisive issue.

Mauritania's Legal Framework

From a legal standpoint, Mauritania criminalizes homosexuality. The country strictly adheres to Islamic Sharia law, which considers same-sex relationships and acts as a grave offense. Article 308 of the Mauritanian Penal Code criminalizes "unnatural acts" between consenting adults, including same-sex relations.

Engaging in homosexual acts can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines. The punishments can range from six months to two years of imprisonment, along with monetary fines depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. The societal and legal consequences of being openly gay in Mauritania contribute to a culture of fear and repression for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Societal Attitudes towards Homosexuality

Homosexuality is widely stigmatized in Mauritanian society, primarily due to the conservative religious beliefs deeply rooted in the culture. Traditional Islamic teachings and interpretations view homosexuality as a sin and a violation of religious principles. As a result, LGBTQ+ individuals often face discrimination, rejection, and exclusion from their families, communities, and workplaces.

The prevailing societal attitudes towards homosexuality contribute to a pervasive climate of secrecy and fear. LGBTQ+ individuals often lead double lives, hiding their sexual orientation to avoid social condemnation and discrimination.

Human Rights and LGBTQ+ Activism

Mauritania's stance on homosexuality has drawn criticism from international human rights organizations. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concerns over the persecution and mistreatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the country.

Despite the challenging environment, there are brave activists within Mauritania who are fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. These activists, often working underground, strive to raise awareness, provide support, and advocate for the decriminalization of homosexuality. However, their work is fraught with risks and limitations due to the oppressive legal and social climate.

The Way Forward

The path towards greater acceptance and respect for LGBTQ+ individuals in Mauritania is undeniably complex. It requires a multifaceted approach involving legal reforms, changing societal attitudes, and fostering dialogue to challenge deeply entrenched biases.

International organizations, governments, and human rights activists must continue to shed light on the human rights violations faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Mauritania and call for the repeal of discriminatory laws. It is essential to support local advocates in their efforts to promote inclusivity, equality, and basic human rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.


The stance of homosexuality in Mauritania remains highly restrictive and problematic. With the criminalization of same-sex relationships, LGBTQ+ individuals face legal persecution and pervasive societal discrimination. The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in Mauritania requires ongoing international attention and solidarity to create a more inclusive and equitable society.

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