The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has welcomed President David Granger’s recent support for freedom of choice by persons in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender(LGBT) community.
However, the group remains disappointed in the lack of action by the government to address many of the concerns in the LGBT community.
SASOD believes it is time the seven month old coalition government moves away from rhetoric and take real action in 2016.
At a media engagement on Monday, the local LGBT rights advocacy group said the President’s statement was indeed progressive in the history of Guyana where a Head of State would directly comment on the need to change laws that barricade and discriminate a section of the Guyanese community for their sexuality.
President Granger, during a recent interview, said he is prepared to respect the rights of any adult to indulge in any practice which is not harmful to others.
According to SASOD’s Social Change Coordinator, Jairo Rodrigues, “we are thankful for the President’s recognition of our plight but needless to say the organization looks forward to further engagement and legislative support to these words”.
SASOD called on the government to put action to its May 2015 elections manifesto commitment to put measures in place to ensure that all vulnerable groups and those marginalized because of sexual orientation are protected and are not discriminated against.
“The most basic measure is repealing the insidious law which criminalizes same sex intimacy and cross dressing and perpetuate, institutionally, anti LGBT discrimination in Society,” SASOD’s Advocacy and Communication Officer Schemel Patrick explained.
She said President Granger also intimated that the issue has not been ventilated at the Cabinet level and hence there is no timetable for the review of these laws. “SASOD is very disappointed that a clear commitment of the coalition government has not at least been discussed for implementation in the now more than seven months since the administration has taken office,” she added, while pointing out that it would take simple amendments to repeal the laws criminalizing same sex intimacy and cross dressing.
SASOD said the government must demonstrate that it has the political will and needs to take leadership on LGBT issues.
According the SASOD’s Managing Director, Joel Simpson, the organization intends to meet with every Member of Parliament during this year, beginning with Ministers and front bench Members, to discuss these issues and garner support.
It also intends to do work with the United States Embassy in Georgetown on reducing discrimination in the Guyanese society.
Over the years, SASOD has advocated community based approaches and engaged stakeholders on support of human rights but insists that legal action from the government is necessary.