In the context of the Pride month 2021, the Young Queer Alliance in collaboration with the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel has organised a media training on LGBT reporting with the local media houses at the Media Trust under the “Strengthening the inclusion and social acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons, through policy and mindset changes, in Mauritius and Rodrigues” which is funded by the European Union. The training was supported by the Equality Rights in Action Fund (National Democratic Institute).
The objective of this media training was to enable news reporters to correctly represent LGBTQ people in their reporting and to have a more diverse and adequate reporting on LGBTQ issues.
His Excellency, Mr. V. Devert, the Ambassador of the European Union in Mauritius joined the inaugural session of the training through the Zoom platform given the sanitary rules in place. He seized the opportunity to reaffirm the support of the European Union on the LGBTQIA+ cause and human rights. He also underlined the progress made in Mauritius in terms of acceptance of LGBTQ people and urged the Mauritian authorities to adhere to the international conventions which they signed to.
Mr. Najeeb Ahmad Fokeerbux, the founder of the Young Queer Alliance, emphasised on the role of the media as powerful leverages in ensuring freedoms and rights through adequate reporting. He further stated that media often play a predominant role in gearing the masses on issues affecting society. For him, the press helps cure a country of social ills. Quoting Dr Phillipe-Forget, he stated –
“As a doctor, your task is to treat people but as a journalist you try to cure a country.”
The training happened at an opportunistic time in the face of the challenges faced by LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people are subject to discrimination, violence, abuse and the lack of equity and lack of accessible health care in Mauritius. This media training is an opportunity for the Young Queer Alliance to educate and sensitise news reporters on how to cover the stories of LGBTQ people without prejudice, misrepresentation and contempt on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Chris Bhaganooa, barrister-at-law and Mr Ross Murray, Senior Director, Media Institute, GLAAD also intervened during the training. Me. Bhaganooa elaborated on the legal hardships faced by LGBTQ people and stated that the number of LGBTQ Mauritians seeking asylum is alarming.
Mr Ross who joined us on the Zoom platform, delved on the proper language to be used when addressing and writing articles on LGBT people and themes. The best practices on LGBT reporting and their contribution in the visibility of the protection and promotion of human rights, including LGBT rights, were shared by Ross Murray.
For the closing remarks, Mr Thom Kohl, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, emphasised on the role of the Embassy in the protection of LGBT people in Mauritius.
Young Queer Alliance