Watch: Human Rights Defender describes being attacked for trying to help lesbian couple

Sandrine Julien spoke as part of a new video campaign by the UN highlighting LGBTQ+ activists and HRDs around the globe.

A woman on a couch speaking to a video camera

Human rights defender Sandrine Julien has shared in a new UN interview the dangers and difficulties involved in protecting and assisting the LGBTQ+ community in her home country of Mauritius.

Sandrine spoke as part of the United Nations video campaign, Diversity in Adversity, each episode highlighting and celebrating a different LGBTQ+ human rights defender and activist around the globe and the incredible work they do.

Sandrine works as a consultant for the Collective for Human Rights in Mauritius. As part of her work, she accompanies LGBTQ+ people in vulnerable situations and advocates for decriminalisation of same-sex relationships.

It is a much-needed assistance she provides due to the state of LGBTQ+ rights in her country. She describes, “as a human rights activist… I have often witnessed discrimination, stigmatisation, I met many suicidal people, depressive people, people suffering from traumas, from violence in their family. This is why I have fought for ten years for the rights of LGBT people in Mauritius.”

In 2018, she was physically assaulted by family members of a woman who had requested help moving to a safe space. A communication sent to the Government of Mauritius in May 2019 detailed how two women whose families “subjected them to physical, verbal and psychological abuse, as a result of not accepting their sexual orientation” asked for assistance from the CAEC (Collectif Arc-En-Ciel) of which Sandrine was part.

It continues, “Ms. Sandrine Julien and a volunteer of the CAEC went to the family home of one of the women to bring her to a safe space at her own request. Upon arrival, they were initially blocked on the road by two policemen that had been called by the family. Family members started to intimidate and insult them and the woman who had called them. They cornered the woman and began to beat her violently. The same individuals then physically assaulted Ms. Julien and the CAEC volunteer, who suffered a cracked rib as a result.

“Two policemen present at the scene, witnessed the entire incident. However, none of them intervened to stop the acts of violence, even though the CAEC members asked them for help. The CAEC has not received any news about the two lesbian women that requested the organisation’s assistance since the day of the assault, and their whereabouts are unknown, which is why there are serious concerns for their safety and wellbeing.”

Sandrine’s unmissable interview also describes the history of both Pride celebrations in the country and the leaps and bounds the community has made with support.

As Sandrine touchingly describes, “LGBT people do not ask for more rights. LGBT people only demand equity”. She continues, “We should not have to fight for rights that should be acknowledged under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Follow the UN Diversity in Adversity campaign over the coming weeks and keep up-to-date by visiting the dedicated UN webpage here.

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