“If someone is gay here, he may be regarded as a freak, and made fun of, no matter how straight he may look!” Blending in seems to be the only way to get through the day, “You may not care what others think, but many gay people in Mauritius are afraid someone may recognise them as a gay. The island is too small.” Many gay guys want to leave the island at some point, and many go to South Africa or Europe as soon as they can afford the journey. There’s little appetite for fighting public attitudes. Coming out as gay brings shame on the family as well as personal risk, which most Mauritian gay men aren’t willing to experience.
Mauritius is an island nation off the east coast of African in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) from Madagascar. Mauritius attained independence from England in 1968 and has been a stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record; it and has attracted considerable foreign investment earning one of Africa’s highest per capita incomes. Homosexuality is illegal but on May 22, 2006 hundreds of gays and lesbians staged the first gay rights march shocking afternoon shoppers in the bustling town of Rose Hill. The gay community is mostly underground as many face persecution and discrimination.