A few days ago, you have been elected to the board of the Young Queer Alliance; an NGO for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) people in Mauritius. Tell us more about yourself and how you want to contribute towards the YQA?
I am Saarvesh Doorjean, but everyone knows me as Mim. I have recently completed my diploma in Health care, and since the past five years, I am an active member of the Young Queer Alliance. By contributing towards the YQA, I am expecting to become a more responsible person who leads projects focusing on human rights and youth empowerment. My main objective is to work towards a better and inclusive society for the LGBTQ people.
What does the International Trans Day of Visibility celebrated on 31 March 2020 represent for you?
I believe that it is an essential day for trans people as this day is about celebrating trans visibility. This day sheds light on the daily difficulties and challenges Trans people face and struggles to be accepted in society.
How do you view the way Government is tackling the lockdown due to COVID-19?
At first, the Government did not know how to manage this sanitary crisis, and I feel they did not tell us the whole truth about cases of COVID-19 in Mauritius. However, during the following weeks, proper measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the citizens as well as to aid them in terms of food distribution, medical assistance and police intervention. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate to see that there are still a few people who do not respect the measures and regulations enforced by the Government.
What do you think of the financial support of MUR 5,100 being provided by Government to people in the informal sector – hairdressers, make-up artists, construction workers, etc. during the lockdown?
Indeed, it is an excellent initiative that has been implemented. However, this measure targets only a specific segment of the population. I mean this strategy could have englobed the whole population as there are people who do not fall under this category, but they do face some financial problem. Besides, I have noticed that some people are having issues to log in to the website of the MRA.
Sex workers are not registered, and like cisgender and heterosexual persons, there are trans people who are sex workers. What of them?
This financial support should have been extended to them as well, but this is not the case even though they are not working during this period. In the case of heterosexual sex workers if they have children, they may be benefiting from aid from social security if their children are attending school. This measure is supposed to empower vulnerable groups, but it seems that some groups are left behind, defeating the purpose of the social aid… and this is unfortunate.
How do you intend to inspire to ensure LGBTQ people enjoy equal human rights?
Mauritius is a democratic country which promotes human rights, and there are no specific rights attached to any group. Discrimination prevails towards LGBTQ people, but it seems to be more common among trans people, especially in search for a job or while in employment. Above all, I think that it is vital that we know our rights and that we keep on fighting to ensure that same-sex consensual relations are no longer criminalized and marriage equality becomes a reality. For trans people, specific policies concerning the use of bathroom and anti-bullying policies must also be implemented in schools.