2013 clearly marked the crescendo in LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) rights in various countries – Austria, Brazil, France, a handful of States in the U.S., England and Wales, Germany, New-Zealand and Uruguay. Late Nelson Mandela, father of the “Rainbow Nation” enshrined protection and promotion of LGBTQI rights in the South African Constitution. In India, Rahul Gandhi, Aamir Khan, other prominent figures and civil rights movements vouched for promotion of LGBTQI rights and promotion of consensual anal sex.

In as much as religious leaders traditionally opposed LGBTQI rights, Pope Francis took a revolutionary stand for LGBTQI in his historic quote after the World Youth Day in Brazil : “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge ?” Moreover, South Africa’s Nobel peace laureate, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said : “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

Imam Muhsin Hendricksi and Imam Daayiee Abdullah help Gay Muslims to reconcile and be at ease with their sexuality by accepting their sexual orientation and identity and at the same time follow their religion.

Following an article in a local newspaper on homosexual rights in Mauritius on Friday the 24th January this year, a clip circulated on You Tube advocating for killings and violence against LGBTQI people. So much vehemence and intolerance and open threats cannot go into deaf ears ! Religion cannot wield justice in a multi-racial nation !

Homophobia : A daily struggle !

In 2010 and 2012 respectively, researches (Integrated Biological and Behavioral Survey) carried out in Mauritius pointed out that “… 17% of MSM [Men having Sex with Men] were ever refused service and that 10% were refused employment, 8% refused housing and 8% were hit or kicked in the past year because of their sexual orientation…” (IBBS 2010) and “84% of MSM reported receiving verbal insults and 7.4% were assaulted because they were perceived to have sex with men” (IBBS 2012) ; both studies conducted by the National AIDS Secretariat under the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life with other partners and collaborators from civil society. The State must act to the plights of LGBTQI people.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in 2014 focuses on “Freedom of Expression”. There is no denying to the lack of involvement of LGBTQI people to fight for their own rights leading to freedoms ; often creating deadlocks for legislators to move forward in promoting their “Freedom of Expression”.

Section 282 of the Mauritian Criminal Code, despite making provision for “Stirring up racial hatred” against any section or part of any section of the public based on race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed does not encompass Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and other statuses as in the Equal Opportunities Act.

Basic protection for LGBTQI people from Hate Crimes and Homophobia ; hopefully the next issue on the Agenda !

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