Mauritius – Homophobia: one step forward, two steps back

Mauritius – Homophobia: one step forward, two steps back

Date: June 17, 2011
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For the first time a lesbian, coming from a well Known family, is on the cover of a Mauritian women’s magazine and is interviewed together with her lover. But we should note that it came out after their departure from Mauritius to immigrate to Canada.

The International Day against homophobia on 17 May reminded us of the universality of human rights which should not be minimised or denied because of sexual orientation.

Contrary to some other countries in the region, there is very little legislation in Mauritius that mentions, condemns or penalises homosexuality.

“In South Africa homosexuality is recognised and protected by laws, relationship between persons of same sex is legalised,” says Nathalie Ahnee of the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel (an association which fights for recognition of difference in sexual orientation and the rights of gays and lesbians).

Linley Couronne of Amnesty Mauritius mentions that there has been some evolution in the mentality as evidenced by a recent Gay Pride, an annual march in support of the rights of homosexuals.

The Employment Rights Act 2008 protects homosexuals in the labour sector while the “Equal Opportunities Bills” which have yet to be put through will be another step for the rights of homosexuals.

Despite this, discrimination against gays and lesbians appears to be on the rise.

“This year there have been the same number of cases of discrimination as were reported during the last five years,” says Ahnee.

She thinks this could be because victims of discrimination now speak out and ask for help from support organisations where before they may have stayed silent.

Couronne concludes that while according to some websites Mauritius is quoted as “gay friendly”, in “terms of human rights, the homosexuals are still a vulnerable group.”

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