Afrobarometer report shows that homophobia is not African even if homophobia remains widespread in Africa.
Four in five Africans don’t want gay neighbours. A resounding observation from Afrobarometer which is at its Round 6 published the 1st May 2016. The survey was conducted in 33 countries in 2014/2015. Yet, the disaggregated figures show that homophobia is not an African culture and countries are moving to be more tolerant.
Quizzically enough, despite Africa being showcased as a land of ethnic and religious divergences and intolerance, 91% of Africans tolerate people of different ethnicities, 87% tolerate people of different religions, 81% of Africans are tolerant of immigrants or foreign workers and 68% are tolerant of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The big issue remains that only a meagre 21% of Africans would like or not care if their neighbours were homosexuals!
Disaggregated figures show only 4 countries out of the 33 to have more than half of their population tolerant of homosexuals. These are Cap Verde (74%), South Africa (67%), Mozambique (56%) and Namibia (55%). Mauritius is just on the border at 49%.
In 2014, Mozambique decriminalised same-sex sexual acts, and this supported how policy change may bring about a change in public attitude. Furthermore, Namibia and Mauritius are cited as being proactive concerning homosexuals, for despite there is the anti-sodomy law Article 250 of the penal code of year 1838 in Mauritius – a colonial legacy of the British Empire – there is growing acceptance towards homosexuals in Mauritius.
LGBT rights progress in Mauritius
In fact, public figures have made statements and acted for the promotion of Human Rights related to Sexual Orientation over the past ten years. Among staunch supporters are: Rama Valayden, former Attorney General, Hon. Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, former Prime Minister, Hon. Paul Raymond Bérenger, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ravi Yerigadoo, current Attorney General, and more recently, Hon. Alain Wong, Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms.
“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. ~ Hon. Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, 16th December 2008.
“The Opposition already strongly supports the rights of homosexuals as human rights.” ~ Hon. Paul Raymon Bérenger, Leader of the Opposition, 28th June 2011.
“Let us be clear. Everybody is equal. No-one has more rights than others and there should not citizens of first or second category. Therefore, we should all join hands and work together to ensure that there is no discrimination against anyone. Gender, sexual orientation, color, creed, social status and even handicaps should not be an obstacle.” ~ Hon. Alain Wong, Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms, 20th February 2016.
Statements are here, actions as well. In 2007, former attorney general, Rama Valayden wanted to pass on a Sexual Offences Bill which along the way would have decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual relationships, but the bill did not go through.
In 2008, there have been the enactments of the Employment Rights Act, the Employment Relations Act and the Equal Opportunities Act, which among many statuses include Sexual Orientation.
In 2008 at the UN General Assembly; Mauritius signed the Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and followed by supporting the UNHRC resolution affirming the rights of LGBT in 2011.
In 2007, the Law Reform Commission has made recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts among adults. In 2014, the Equal Opportunities Commission lifted the blood donation ban on homosexuals even if now, the ban is on Men having Sex with Men. And currently there is a case of marriage equality that the commission is looking into.
Efforts and actions are well under way to ensure that Human Rights are respected in Mauritius. Organisations are involved in one way or the other to move forward these rights. Afrobarometer survey shows that younger and more educated Africans tend to be more tolerant of homosexuals than older and less educated Africans. With access to free education and internet penetration, we have hope in Mauritius, that progressively and incrementally, Mauritius will become less homophobic and more accepting of homosexuals.
FOKEERBUX Najeeb A.