Equality for All: When Youth Artivism celebrates equality amidst diversity

Artivism: Artistic Activism. Artivism is one of the various techniques used by activists to make their voices heard, to pass on messages, to engage people and to bring about changes in creative and artistic ways. If we are to portray same in Mauritius, throughout the creation of our Nation, Artivism has been present in various forms: The outcry and passion of the Sega soothing slavery and freedom, Siven Chinien’s songs of “Soldat Lalit”, “L’année 43” and so many others; songs have been the most marking forms of Artivism in Mauritius for decades; much present and vibrant, that today they encompass our culture.

Equality for All remains a plethora and amalgam of various techniques of Artivism; namely: Video: Equality for all, underlining the various differences and discriminations based on sexual orientation, gender, sex, HIV status, disability, age, etc; A first LGBT-themed song in Mauritius by Team Premiere Productions, with the lyrics by Sedley Assonne, singer: Jahla Hopes for theme: Les mwa viv mo lamour; and more importantly, the 30 poster paintings by youngsters aged 15 – 27 years old of diverse backgrounds, depicting their emotions, aspirations, wishes and ideals for a better society where equality is the motto of development.

Equality for All is also to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2015. The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis was a big collaborator of the event in terms of logistical support, counselling etc. The launching of Equality for All was at the residence of H.E. Shari Villarosa’s Residence which was lighted up by the presence of Honorable Leela Devi Dookhun-luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific research. More to it, the U.S. Embassy also supported in hosting a full week exhibition of the various posters and judging at Rogers House. Adding to it all, they also supported in the finale on the eve of IDAHOT 2015; the 16th May 2015.

LIST OF MEMBERS OF JURY:

  1. U.S. Embassy – Ambassador | H.E. Shari Villarosa
  2. British High Commission – Deputy High Commissioner | Ms. Sharon Taylor
  3. European Union – Ms. Aleksandra Pazola & Ms Milene Flaux
  4. Ministry of Youth and Sports – Senior Advisor | Mr. Jules Hansley
  5. Equal Opportunities Commission – Chairperson | Mr. Shameer Mohuddy
  6. Artist – Mr. Kevin Ghoseawon
  7. Ministry of Arts and Culture – Culture Officer | Mr. R. Ramnauth
  8. Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research – Permanent Secretary | Mrs. N.D. Goorah

U.S. Ambassador, H.E. Shari Villarosa voting at Rogers HouseAll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” the genesis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the foundation of how societies have evolved throughout centuries; and Mauritius is no exception to this ideal.. yet?

Often, speaking of Human Rights, one tends to believe that rights are about changing constitutions and amending, repealing, or introducing laws. Yet, Human Rights transcend the mere words of what is written in these set of laws that mould society. Human Rights are in fact, the individual, social, economic, legal, cultural, environmental, and other well-being of people… for instance, that lack of accessibility to education, healthcare, employment, justice; various kinds of discriminations, torture, violence, are all the wider range of violations of human rights that individuals and societies can perpetuate.

Equality for All, has an objective: through the universality and indivisibility of human rights, to federate and unite different social actors, and activists; ALL; so that LGBT rights, youth voices, woman rights, child rights, those affected by HIV/AIDS, disabled and so many others; all unite to speak the same voice: That Equality is for All, that our struggles lead to one destination: That Being human is the sole prerequisite to have Equal Human Rights.

All unite to speak the save voice; together with the support of the U.S. Embassy, the European Union in Mauritius sponsored the first prize for a total of 250 EUR. Also, Mr. Chrisophe Noualhat from RAVANNE-OI and UNAIDS representative was our key guest for the event.

H.E. Mr Aldo Dell’Ariccia, Chargé D’affaires A.I. of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius underlined the fact that the EU remains a staunch supporter and defender of LGBTI human rights and we stand together with LGBTI people all around the world in the struggle to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and that the EU will continue to work in all possible fora, and increase its support to the civil society organisations, to make the case for the respect of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Mr. Christophe Noualhat – UNAIDS / RAVANE OCEAN INDIEN highlighted the fact that we are all diverse and different, and we must all accept those differences even when they take us outside of our comfort zone. And that despite struggles and punitive legistations, LGBTI people are moving towards greener pastures and pushing frontiers. He also advised that as an african saying goes « If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together ». By regrouping and working together, civil society can be strong, vibrant and fight the stigmatisation and discrimination disease; with regards to LGBTI and HIV/AIDS.

Hon. Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms, Mr. Alain Wong graced the ceremony by his presence whereby while congratulating the Young Queer Alliance for the effort, he said that discriminations against LGBT people for donating blood should cease and that being homosexual should not be a hindrance to LGBTI people to be able to donate blood since the blood is tested.

YQA founder, Mr. Najeeb A. Fokeerbux emphasized that at YQA, we are fully aware that Homophobia and Transphobia persist in all aspects of our daily lives. Many of you, I am sure have witnessed bullying or worst, been victims of bullying because of who you are. You have been denied of your right to be safe, or to live your life in all freedom because of who you are. We want the authorities to recognise that such hate crimes against the LGBTQI society threaten our equality.

YQA founder, Mr. Najeeb A. FokeerbuxHe thus made appeals to the authorities to:-

  • A law to protect us from hate crimes based on our sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Recognition of Trans-people rights, in particular, their right to have a decent employment; and
  • The introduction of anti-bullying policies in schools and workplaces.
  • If we want to raise our societal standards, we should be ready to invest in treating every single human equally; because “Being Human is the sole prerequisite to have Equal Human Rights.”

The ceremony ended with a whole hour show from various groups and youngsters with dance, singing, etc.

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Others about us

  • Eric Whitaker (U.S. Department of State)

    I find the youngsters of Young Queer Alliance very creative and I welcome this shelter project in Mauritius. Congratulations for this beautiful project that I will surely narrate at Washington. 

  • Saarvesh Doorjean (Peer Outreach, YQA)

    I am so proud of us. I have learnt many things and got to know many people working with the Young Queer Alliance. A big thank you and the team at YQA.

  • Aldo Dell'Ariccia (European Union)

    I took the opportunity to comment the initiative of the Young Queer Alliance for launching a national campaign theme "Equality for All", and thank the members of the association for their determination and dynamism.

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