27th September 2014; Port Louis, Mauritius; Young Queer Alliance
The Young Queer Alliance (YQA) enthusiastically welcomes the adoption by the United Nation Human Rights Council (25 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions) of the Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SO & GI) condemning discrimination and violence perpetuated against people based on their SO & GI.
The resolution led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay followed a resolution in 2011 on the same topic led by South Africa and asks the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence.
Click to download the statement: L27_HRC_Rev1_09-23-14
The advent of the Equal Opportunities Act 2012
YQA wishes to remind that in 2011, Mauritius supported the Resolution with South Africa; ensuing which parliament made important progress on LGBT rights in terms of legislations and institutions through the enactment of the Equal Opportunities Act 2012 (EOA 2012) and the setting-up of the Equal Opportunities Commission; instruments to promote anti-discriminatory services and treatments to people based on various statuses including sexual orientation.
Whether LGBT people are known and open or still closeted of their identity, their contribution to society in terms of employment, taxes, social work, production, etc. is equal if not more than any other citizen.
On the 28th June 2011, following Private Notice Questions in Parliament, Mr. Paul Raymond Bérenger – the then Leader of the Opposition and Leader of one of the major political parties; the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) – and his strong support to LGBT rights; stating:
The Opposition already strongly supports the rights of homosexuals as human rights,
the inclusion of Sexual Orientation in the EOA 2012 was ensured. The EOA 2012 open a plethora of avenues to legal challenges to laws and better conditions for LGBT people in Mauritius.
Proactive legislations in 2008
Since 2008, proactive legislations based on Sexual Orientation made their way in our laws under the strong governance of the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) through the adoption of the Employment Rights Act 2008 and the Employment Relations Act 2008; prohibiting discriminations and harassment at workplace and to obtain employment based on Sexual Orientation among other statuses.
Furthermore, in the same year, the Equal Opportunities Bill 2008 was first presented; where the Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Navin Chandra Ramgoolam stated:
“UNE ILE MAURICE POUR TOUS” because we want an inclusive society where every single citizen of this country feels deep within herself or himself that a decent life and well-being is within everybody’s reach if they are prepared to make the effort to seize the opportunities for their own progress.”
The unfortunate attempt to decriminalise Sodomy in 2007
A year before, in 2007, unfortunately, the Sexual Offences Bill 2007 sponsored by the MLP through the then Attorney General, Mr. Rama Valayden, did not go through due to fierce opposition of extreme groups and the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM) a minor political party, whose leader, Pravind Jugnauth has already at the outset opposed the decriminalisation of consensual sodomy, qualifying it as “immoral” and saying that Government’s move was “a telltale sign of a society that was losing its values”.
YQA strongly supports those promoting LGBT rights as Human Rights in Mauritius and elsewhere; while condemning those stampeding on fundamental human freedoms and rights to live and love.
Pakistan Statement on Youth
Thus, during the voting of the Resolution yesterday, YQA condemns Pakistan stand on the bill, since YQA affirms that the Pakistani representative opposed a bill which would enable the empowerment and development of LGBT youth.
Egypt violations of LGBT rights: A travesty to the council
Moreover, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation led by Egypt is a travesty during the resolution is a travesty for human rights, when reports of violations of LGBT rights as human rights in Egypt are flagrant! On Thursday the 25th September, Six men were sentenced to jail for two years for being homosexuals. Adding to it all, according to Human Rights First, Egyptian police have arrested more than 80 people for the “crime” of being gay or transgender since October 2013.
These events make YQA wonder if opposition to the Resolution by 14 states were due to the fact that they perpetuate violations of LGBT rights, and thus, YQA encourages the UN to inquire and document on same.
A ray of hope in Botswana
Despite the vote of Botswana against the Resolution, YQA welcomes the openness of Botswana to dialogue and serious efforts on LGBT rights in Botswana. For sure, the drastic shift in countries where education level are not soaring high, social conditions and access to information are just starting, and democracy remains an issue, are not so easy to occur. Yet, Botswana already provides for inclusiveness of LGBT rights in employment, and thus, YQA encourages Botswana to continue with more political and social will on LGBT rights.
The United States and South Africa continued support
While South Africa reminded us of the Supremacy of its Constitution and the Rule of Law as important foundations of inclusiveness and tolerance in a Rainbow Nation, where LGBT rights are constitutional rights; the persistence of violence and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation exists! The United States reaffirmed its support to promoting LGBT rights and fighting human rights violations; like apartheid, slavery and other discriminations were fought against!
These two Nations (among the 25 nations supporting the Resolution) reminded us that despite laws, and rights acquired, instruments, structures, institutions, States, organisations and civil society actors must continue to oppose all sorts of violence and discrimination that violate fundamental human rights and LGBT rights.
Mauritius: The Way Forward
With enactments of employment and opportunities secured based on sexual orientation in Mauritius, and recently, LGBT people being allowed to donate blood after a case at the Equal Opportunities Commission; YQA makes a call to legislators and civil society to push forward for 1) inclusion of Gender Identity and Expression in existing legislations, 2) protection from hate crimes and violence, 3) decriminalisation of consensual anal sex between consenting individuals through an introduction of a revised Sexual Offences Bill and 4) recognition of same-sex marriage.. with the firm belief that:
Being Human is the sole prerequisite to have Equal Human Rights.
FOKEERBUX Najeeb A.