The Catholic cardinal of Mauritius spoke out against the obstruction of the country’s Pride parade that was supposed to have taken place earlier this month.
The parade was scheduled for Saturday June 2nd in Port Louis, the capital of this Indian Ocean island nation. It was organized by the Rainbow Collective, an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT people in Mauritius. The parade was said to have attracted 200 people.
However, in the midst of the celebration, a group of Muslim protesters gathered and blocked the way of the parade, holding signs with anti-gay messages. The organizers of the parade feared a conflict would ensue between the protesters and parade participants, so they decided to cancel the event before things became hostile.
The Catholic response from Cardinal Maurice Piat of Port Louis definitively supported the Rainbow Collective and the Pride parade. Business Standard reported Piat’s statement:
“Regardless of one’s moral beliefs about homosexuality, we would like to express our indignation at the way an LGBT parade that had police permission was obstructed by illegal protesters.”
The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, made a statement in agreement with the Catholic support of the parade:
“The rule of law must prevail and authorities will do what is necessary following this unacceptable and illegal demonstration.”
Although the Catholic response following the parade condemned the unauthorized protest, Piat was careful to distinguish that his position was not anti-Muslim. He stated:
“We have many friends among our Muslim brothers and sisters and we will not lump a group of demonstrators together with the entire Muslim community.”
During this season of Pride, this is not the first time we have seen Catholic support for Pride activities opposing other religious groups’ condemnations of the LGBTQ+ celebrations. Guyana’s Pride parade recently faced similar criticism from a Christian group, but a Catholic bishop and other Christian leaders firmly supported the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in the South American country. From the perspective of the United States, it is encouraging to see Catholic support of Pride in other countries, especially since one of our bishops at home has declared Pride celebrations as “morally offensive.”
In the case of Mauritius, the Catholic position is consistent with the law and inter-religious support of LGBTQ+ persons within the country. The Business Standard reported:
“The Council of Religions, which brings together representatives of all religions in Mauritius, echoed the message of tolerance and the rule of law. Respect for the law and human rights, it said in a statement, ‘is not an option, it is an imperative for any society, for our society!’”
It may be tempting to condemn the people who persecute and discriminate against LGBTQ+ neighbors. However, Pride is not about condemning. It is about celebrating love by magnifying the call for a more just world. Pride month may have been the cause of division amongst various religious groups, but division does not justify hatred or violence against another group of people, whether those people are Muslim, queer, Christian, or Catholic.
As June comes to a close, Catholics might keep in mind Christ’s call to love even during the times when it is most difficult to love. How will we respond when people rain on our parade?
–Lizzie Sextro, New Ways Ministry, June 28, 2018