May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) to draw the attention to violence, stigma and discrimination faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) people. The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
IDAHOBIT remains a global milestone to press upon policy makers, the media, private companies, faith leaders, community leaders, LGBTQ people and the public in general on the need to act on the challenges and inequalities faced by people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sex characteristics.
The theme of this year’s IDAHOBIT: “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights”, is of utmost relevance in countries, like Mauritius, where being LGBTQ is criminalised, bodily autonomy is policed and the core identities of LGBTQ people are violated.
While LGBTQ people struggle to live and strive to exist in Mauritius, no doubt that over the past few years, against the backdrop of sacrificing “paradise island”, more and more LGBTQ Mauritians are immigrating or obtaining asylum in countries where being LGBTQ is legal.
Section 250 of the Mauritius Criminal Code, which penalises same sex sexual relationships among consenting adults, in effect creates an environment fuelling violence, stigma and discrimination towards LGBTQ people. Trans people have no forms of legal recognition under laws to enable them to transition on identity papers. And a plethora of social and economic rights are not catered for under the different laws.
Despite the legal and social challenges, IDAHOBIT serves as a remembrance that daring to be visible, standing up for love, and advocating for our rights are essential in the face of oppression. IDAHOBIT is also a remembrance to the numerous Queer folks who have lost their dear ones to the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS, and who, without their relentless struggles in the face of despair and the hope to be and to live, have shaped LGBTQ movements as we know them today.
As we commemorate IDAHOBIT 2022, let us work, in whatever capacity we can, towards de-policing our bodies, freedom to chose and to live and advocating for our rights.
Young Queer Alliance