March 4, 2024

Pride in Maritime Day 2024 – Navigating Equality at Sea

Progress and Ongoing Challenges

While significant progress has been made in fostering LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the maritime sector, challenges persist. In various parts of the world, it is still illegal to be gay, and individuals face persecution for their sexual orientation. In June last year, we interviewed Filipino seafarer Arstone Aurelio, who now considers himself a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, but it hasn’t always been easy. “I hide my identity as gay and try to be straight onboard,” Arstone said; this is how he felt when he first stepped on board in his first role as a Cadet on board a Greek vessel. Arstone described his first month on board as “really difficult.” He was trying his hardest to “act straight” but struggled, expressing that it was in his “nature” and felt that it was “obvious” that he was gay. “it led me to be sent back home. I don’t know the reason for this. Maybe because maybe I’m gay?” Arstone told us he was never given a reason for being sent home, but eventually, he was allowed to return to the ship only in what he describes as a “demoted” position, and he was sent to work in the ship’s kitchen and galley. Changing laws, hearts, and minds is never simple, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but we can make a start.We remain dedicated to advocating for the adoption of the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea to ensure that human rights are universally respected, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity and fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.