As part of the European Union funded project “Strengthening the inclusion and social acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons, through policy and mindset changes, in Mauritius and Rodrigues” which is being implemented by the Young Queer Alliance and Collectif Arc-en-Ciel; on 03 December 2021, the Young Queer Alliance launched the thematic research “A place called home: the condition and challenges of LGBTQIA+ persons in family settings”. The research was carried out by Me. Danisha Sornum, MPP, LLM.
Very little is known about the condition and challenges of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) persons in family settings in Mauritius. This thematic research, comprising an extensive literature review and a national survey, was conducted to close the existing gap. The research shows that LGBTQIA+ persons face numerous challenges in the family that put them at higher risk for physical and mental health problems. The research highlights the critical role of family acceptance as a protective factor for LGBTQIA+ persons. The report is a call to action to action for policymakers to repeal laws and policies that criminalize LGBTQIA+ persons and to implement targeted programmes and interventions to promote the well-being LGBTQIA+ persons in the family setting, particularly by engaging parents and healthcare providers as allies.
This research shows that LGBTQIA+ persons face numerous challenges within the family. Being reminded by family members to watch appearance or the way to speak/act (45.75%), verbal abuse (41.18%), and psychological abuse (39.22%) were the most common rejection behaviours experienced by LGBT people in the family. Conversely, only 32.03% of respondents reported that their family members had open conversations with them as means of support and 29.41% of respondents reported that family members provided moral support despite feeling uncomfortable on the matter.
Moreover, 78.43% of respondents had disclosed their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to at least one member of their family, out of which only 7.50% found the coming out process somewhat or very easy. The average age of coming out to their family member is around 19 years.
The reasons advanced by respondents for not sharing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity with any or all members of their family were fears of not being accepted (87.02%), losing their home (38.93%) and being harmed (33.59%).
The results of the survey reveal that an overwhelming 70.6% of the respondents have experienced at least one form of rejection behaviour in the family. 52.94% of respondents reported that their family exhibited no positive behaviour at all.
The respondents also stated that media awareness (88%), decriminalising homosexuality (86%), marriage equality (84%) and being economically independent (82%) were very important factors which can contribute to improve the conditions of LGBTQIA+ people. Therefore, to improve the conditions of LGBTQIA+ persons in family settings in Mauritius, policymakers should:
- (i) repeal laws that criminalize LGBTQIA+ persons, at the instance of Section 250 of the Criminal Code;
- (ii) endorse and support NGOs in reaching out to larger sections of the population and in providing more platforms for the dissemination of information with respect to family acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons;
- (iii) invest in counselling for parents and parent training programmes; and
- (iv) train healthcare professionals to provide sexuality-specific support to LGBTQIA+ youths and their families.
For Me. Sornum, “This report is a call to action to action for policymakers to repeal laws and policies that criminalise LGBTQIA+ persons and to implement targeted programmes and interventions to promote the well-being LGBTQIA+ persons in the family setting, particularly by engaging parents and healthcare providers as allies”.
The research, “A place called home: the condition and challenges of LGBTQIA+ persons in family settings”, is available on an open source basis at the Resource Centre of the Young Queer Alliance.
Young Queer Alliance