by Leander Milbrecht
It is a rare sight this year: the queer community in Mauritius defied the COVID-19 pandemic and the queer-hostile mood in the country by organising one of the world’s very rare pride events. With good reason: the queers have an important demand.
The organisation Collectif Arc-en-Cieland (CAEC), which has been campaigning for equal rights for queer people in the country for around 15 years, organised the parade, in which more than 500 people took part – some of them wearing face masks, although Mauritius is now considered practically Coronavirus-free thanks to strict measures taken in spring.
Forbidden Love in Mauritius
The motto of the march was in the national language Morisyen, a Creole language based on French: “Eski to tann mwa?”, which translated means “Do you hear me?”
With this, the organisers and visitors of the event wanted to draw attention to their important demand. The event was a protest against the notorious section 250 of the penal code, which criminalises sex between men. There is no corresponding regulation for sex between women.
Men who are proven to have had sex with other men are threatened with up to five years in prison – an intolerable situation for the local queer community. The head of CAEC, Anjeelee Kaur Beegun, said that the criminalisation of same-sex activities is used by opponents of the community to stigmatise and threaten them.
“We hope that through this march we will be able to raise awareness among decision-makers and the general public of the harsh reality of LGBT+ people and force them to be more sensitive to it”.
Mauritius: Unfortunately not a dream for everyone
Mauritius is a small island state in the Indian Ocean, about 1000 kilometres east of the coast of Madagascar. The country is a paradise when you look at it – unfortunately it is not yet a paradise for the queer community. Transgender people cannot have their gender reassigned, and there is no legal recognition of homosexual couples.
In 2008, an anti-discrimination law was passed on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity – a significant success all the same, says Beegun. She promises, however, that they would continue to fight for true equality. Homo- and transphobia are still widespread, the activist said.
- mauritius-5401160_1920: By: Kardinalove / Pixabay / CC0
- mauritius2: By Facebook / Collectif Arcenciel
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep us going!