The engagement of the European Union (EU) towards the inclusion and acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) people was highlighted by the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the (EU), Mr Vincent Degert, today, at the Voila Hotel, Bagatelle. He was speaking at the opening of a round table discussion in the context of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, annually observed on 17 May.
The theme retained for this year is Our Bodies Our Lives Our Rights.
The round table discussion, an initiative of the the Collectif Arc-en-Ciel (CAEC), is being held as part of the EU project funded "Strengthening the inclusion and social acceptance of LGBTQIA+ persons, through policy and mindset changes, in Mauritius and Rodrigues" (EU-SIL), being implemented by the CAEC and the Young Queer Alliance. The CAEC also celebrated its 17th anniversary on the occasion.
The aim of the round table was to gather perspectives related to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identities and Expression, and Sexual Characteristic (SOGIESC), and to normalise discussions around LGBTQIA+ matters.
The President of the CAEC, Mr Abdool Ridwaan Firaas Ah Seek; the Manager of the CAEC, Mr Jean Daniel Wong; representatives from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare and the Mauritius Police Force as well as other public and private stakeholders were present at the event.
In his keynote address, Ambassador Degert dwelt on the importance of promoting a just, equitable and inclusive society for all people irrespective of their gender orientation. Speaking on the commitment of the EU towards this endeavour, he highlighted that the EU funded programme aims at better protecting LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination; ensuring safety; building inclusive society; and leading the call for LGBTQIA+ equality.
He also spoke of the Gender Equality Bill which will serve as a fundamental legislation for ensuring a gender inclusive society. The Ambassador added that Gender Country Profile for the period 2021-2027 was presented last week with the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare which will seek to catalyse progress on empowering women and girls, and safeguard gains made on gender equality.
The President of the CAEC, for his part, emphasised on the continuous efforts of the Association to campaign against homophobia. He reasserted that all human beings are born free and equal while emphasising on the right to be oneself.
As for the Manager of the CAEC, he spoke of engaging in dialogue to achieving equal rights and building a society where no one is afraid of their sexual orientation.
The CAEC aims to build capacity and mobilise efforts to normalise dialogue around LGBTQIA+ matters in Mauritius. The main objective of this discussion is to highlight the issues related to SOGIESC, the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and equality of rights, and the inclusion of the community in its diversity.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.