SASOD hopes gov’t slackens position on LGBT community

SASOD Human Rights Coordinator, Ernestine Leonard; Managing Director, Joel Sampson, and member, Alana DaSilva, at Wednesday’s press briefing.

SOCIETY Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has expressed hope that a recent report on Guyana’s dismal voting record on human rights issues at international bodies would move the authorities to act differently.
This, SASOD said is necessary to improve Guyana’s record-keeping system regarding the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LBGT) community.
SASOD released the report on Wednesday morning at its headquarters on Duncan Street, Georgetown.
Managing Director, Joel Simpson, noted that there have been too many human rights shortcomings in Guyana which are directly related to the LBGT community.
He said between the period 2008 and 2016, the country’s voting pattern on international forums regarding the rights of members of the LBGT community has not been up to date.
“There has been too many human rights shortcomings,” Simpson said.
He expressed hope that the report, which was written by Juris directorate graduates, Bryce Celesta and Samy Dorgham, would provide stakeholders with information that can move the authorities into action regarding improvement of the country’s record being updated on the relevant international forums.
The report was reviewed by Professor, Andrea Parra at the American University, Washington College of Law. Its forward was penned by Barrister, Ulele Burnham, in London, UK.
In the report, it was noted that Guyana in many instances, has either not complied in full or not complied on time, with the period reporting procedure set out by the United Nations (UN) Committees such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child (ROC), the Committee Against Torture (CAT) and the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDW).
In addition, it was noted that the country has provided “precious little evidence” of the steps it has taken to protect women, children and victims of torture where the offending treatment is associated with, or compounded by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
As part of it recommendations, SASOD called on the Government of Guyana (GoG) to turn its pro-LBGT rhetoric into action that is viable and meaningful.
In addition, it was noted that while sexual orientation and gender-identified issues may still be under debate domestically, the body called on the country to continue making strides in advancing human rights for vulnerable populations.
Meanwhile, Simpson noted that SASOD is working apace as regards the drafting of a bill which Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, requested.
The bill will include sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) under the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997.
The body has called for an amendment to the Prevention of Discrimination Act (1997), to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as grounds for discrimination.
The inclusion of “sexual orientation” into the act will protect persons who identify as lesbian, gay and bi-sexual while “gender identity” will protect transgender persons.
Additionally, the human rights group is calling for an amendment to the non-discrimination clause in Article 149 (2) of the Constitution.
In this article, the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” are absent and according to SASOD, this allows for discrimination of persons who identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.