THE High Commission of Canada, on Monday, signed a new project that will be funded through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and implemented by EQUAL Guyana.
According to a release, EQUAL Guyana is a non-governmental human rights organisation whose aim is to engage, educate and empower LGBTQ communities and allies in Guyana to create an atmosphere of acceptance and respect that can foster individual and community development.
The name of the project is ‘Promoting Gender Equality with the focus of establishing LGBTQI+ rights through engagement, education and empowerment’. It will be executed over one year. The signing date, May 17, is significant as it is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This year’s theme is: “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” It celebrates the power of communities to promote social cohesion.
Canadian High Commissioner, Mark Berman, in his remarks, highlighted that Canada is pleased to be a key contributor to the growth of the global movement against discrimination and violence towards LGBTQ persons.
“The project highlights the necessity for more dialogue to encourage change in attitudes and promote inclusivity. Changing perceptions is never easy but the key to success is persistence. Canada remains committed to working in solidarity with other governments and civil society organisations towards the goal of ending discrimination and violence against LGBTQ persons,” he said.
“No one should be subjected to discrimination or violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. In the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “[E]veryone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love,” he added.
EQUAL Guyana’s Managing Director, Anil Persaud, stated that their mandate is to promote LGBTQ rights and create a safer, more inclusive and progressive society.
“We believe in more open communication and the unmatched power of creating strong working relationships with our allies in all sectors. We have not been antagonistic, however, we remain cognisant of our realities, and develop mechanisms and methodologies that are somewhat unconventional, but have proven to be positive and promising,” he stated. Through the project, the organisation will be doing several campaigns to encourage dialogue and promote social change.
Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, who was also present at the signing event, indicated that she was pleased to see more civil society organisations addressing the rights of the LGBTQ community, but noted that Guyana still has a long way to go.
“We have a long way to go. We have not made many of the changes that many other countries of the world have made. However, I believe strongly in the three principles that Equal Guyana is also promoting – the idea of engagement, education and [empowerment]. I believe they are critical tools and foundations upon which we can reduce prejudice, ignorance and intolerance within our society,” she said.
“What I find interesting about IDAHOTB is that it recognises the individuality and the uniqueness of different countries, their cultural, religious practices and diversity that lead to sometimes different approaches and different solutions to ensure all people in society have equal rights” Minister Teixeira noted.
The High Commission continues to stand with our partners in government and civil society in the call for the elimination of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex (LGBTQ) persons and the respect for their human rights, the release said.