On the occasion of the Human Rights Day 2021, a one-day symposium on the theme “Diminie inegalite, avanceman drwa imin” was organised by the Young Queer Alliance (YQA) on the 15 December 2021. The symposium was to raise awareness among policy makers, public sector actors, the private sector representatives, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other human rights bodies on the situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) in Mauritius.
The Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on 10 December to commemorate the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which is a milestone document on the universal principle that: “everyone is entitled to as a human being regardless of their identities.”
Equality and non-discrimination are rooted in human rights principles. States have committed to achieve equality and non-discrimination in the 2030 Agenda and this includes addressing challenges which affect the most vulnerable people including women and girls, LGBTQ people, persons with disabilities and young people.
The symposium comprised a panel discussion on the theme “the situation of LGBTQ people in Mauritius” moderated by Ms. Anjeelee Beegun, Consultant for Human Rights & SOGIESC. The discussion focused mainly on the evolution of LGBTQ rights in Mauritius and the role of the U.S as a global leader in the protection, promotion and respect of Human Rights. The panellists consisted the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S Embassy, Thom Kohl, Mrs Lakshita Kanhiya, Manager and Advocate at the YQA, Mrs Danisha Sornum, MPP, LLM, Barrister at law and Consultant and Ms Ambika Mudhoo, Programme Support Officer at the Collectif-Arc-En-Ciel.
The symposium was also an opportunity for the YQA to launch its comparative legal analysis in respect of the criminalisation of sexual relationships between same-sex consenting adults Mauritius. The research was conducted by Me. Sandy Christ Bhaganooa, Avocat au Barreau de Paris, Avocat au Barreau de Maurice. The research compares the Mauritian law to similar existing or repealed laws of other countries bearing significant historical, legal or cultural ties with Mauritius or the former British ruler, and questions the viability of the Mauritian law criminalising the act of consensual sodomy in private between adults.
Fabrice Houdart, Managing Director, Out Leadership also intervened during the symposium with regard to the role of the Private Sector for LGBTQ inclusion. During his presentation, he argued “When you read the landmark judgement by India’s Supreme Court to decriminalise, there are multiple references to the private sector and its advocacy. Companies have multiple channels of influence to use what is often considered as a more neutral voice, to contribute to progress on LGBTQ+ equality.”
This one-day symposium has been organised under the “Strengthening the Inclusion and Social acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons, through policy and mindset changes in Mauritius and Rodrigues”, an EU funded project being implemented by the Young Queer Alliance and the Collectif Arc-En-Ciel.
Young Queer Alliance