Mauritius has more often than not been referred to as a paradise island with white sandy beaches and a plethora of different cultures consisting of approx 1.3 million people coexisting on 2040 km² of land. To the exception of a few isolated incidents, Mauritius has never experience social chaos such as war, famine or apartheid post-independence.
However behind this picture perfect representation of the island lays many skeletons in the closet. For such a small island, stigma and discrimination is very much present within the Mauritian society. Although homosexuality is not criminalized in the local context, laws and policies which are meant to protect liberties and rights for any citizen of a country, fails to take into account the LGBT community. Homophobic, Biphobic & Transphobic institutions & laws forms part of the realities of the LGBT community in Mauritius. The violation of their rights as a human being occurs at different level in different spheres of life. Their sexual identity and expression rights is not respected and often trampled on. Third gender is still not recognized. Same sex couple cannot engage in a legally recognized union. Consensual anal sex is considered as a punishable offence.
As at 2018 impunity still exists for people who violate any individual owing to their sexual orientation or identity. Although very few CBOs are present in the local map to fight for the LGBT rights/cause, there is a crystal clear absence of protocol & mechanism to deal with the challenges and discrimination from relevant state institution in bad faith. The set up of an equal opportunity commission which recognizes sexual orientation in the equal opportunity act can be seen as a timid step forward yet no breakthrough has been made yet.
No battle can be won in isolation. As we commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on this 17th May 2018, we all need to keep strengthening alliances, especially when we need to ensure safety, fight violence, lobby for legal change, and/or campaign to change hearts and minds.