LGBTQ+ Pride Festival to kick off in June
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A throwback scene from Pride celebrations in 2018
A throwback scene from Pride celebrations in 2018

— Community Advocating for repeal of colonial laws

THE 2022 Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) pride festival in Guyana is expected to kick off next month with a packed calendar of events, following a two-year hiatus.

That was revealed by the Guyana LGBT Coalition which comprises several LGBTQ advocacy groups in the country. This year’s celebration is expected to be hosted under the theme, “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights” and will take on a new format.

The festival will open on June 19, 2022 with a virtual interfaith forum, followed by a “Drag Fest” on June 25, an open mic night on July 1, film screening on July 4 and games night on July 8.

Events will continue with the Tea Party and Hat Show on July 10, Pride Symposium on July 11 and will conclude on July 16 with the most anticipated events, the pride parade and pride party.

According to Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Joel Simpson, since the inaugural pride festival in 2017, all of the events and activities have been made public as all are welcomed and this year is no different.

Simpson made these remarks at the Media launch for Pride Festival 2022 which was hosted Wednesday last at the British High Commissioner’s residence. As it relates to the advocacy agenda for this year’s pride, Simpson stated that the focus will be on sexual rights.

“We want to draw attention to laws which criminalise same sex intimacy this year and we know that those laws are colonial in nature and it’s something that we inherited,” he said.

To this end, he added that most countries like the United Kingdom have long gone past those laws and separated themselves from same even as independent countries still hold on to the “relics of colonialism.”

“So, part of the festival this year we want to draw the attention to this particular form of sexual rights and the injustices that still persist because of the presence of these laws,” Simpson added.

While he mentioned that the laws were not often directly enforced, they were still the cause of indirect discrimination to members of the LGBTQ community in Guyana. With that he indicated that now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and persons were now coming out to socialise, they were seeing the resurgence of those types of human rights violations.

As such, Simpson made the call for Sections 351 to 353 of Guyana’s Criminal law offences act, which speaks to the criminalisation of same sex intimacy to be repealed just as other countries have repealed similar laws.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, during the launch, stated that the UK was proud to be the champion for LGBT rights across the world even as she expressed her excitement to be able to take part in the pride festival this year, as it returns to face-to-face celebrations.

Miller went on to say that the UK had repealed those laws and has laws that protect the rights of the LGBT community even as there are countries that have not changed, including Guyana.

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