Minister of State, Joe Harmon, today made it clear that the Cabinet has made any decision or had any discussions with regards to a move to a referendum for the repeal of anti-gay laws in Guyana.
At his post-cabinet press briefing on Friday morning, Mr. Harmon explained that the issue has not reached cabinet. He told journalists that a referendum would be considered the highest level of consultation and no decision has been taken to take the move to repeal anti-gay laws to that level.
According to Mr. Harmon, with regards to statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, those statements were a direct response to an international organisation seeking information on the issue from Guyana.
He said the response by the Foreign Minister was part of the possible avenues that could be taken to address the issue, but he stressed no decision has been made to take the issue to referendum.
Earlier this year, the Government articulated its position in a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), following the 161st Ordinary Period of Sessions, which addressed issues of Human Rights Violations against Young Persons in Guyana.
In the letter seen by News Source, the government said that while there may be mixed views on the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality, much more has to be done regarding a collective and consensual approach and the implementation to fulfill such rights.
The government explained to the Commission that the issue of repeal was brought to the attention of the Legislative arm of Government on several occasions and it was deemed unfit for the legislature to decide on the matter.
As such, a recommendation was made for the matter be taken to a vote, where the people of Guyana will decide by a referendum on these matters. The government did not indicate when this was likely to happen.
The Commission was also informed of the position of President David Granger, who has signaled his support for the reformation of the laws with respect to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community.
Gay rights groups and other human rights bodies in Guyana, have indicated that they are not in support of any referendum on whether the anti-gay laws should be repealed, since it would be a case of a the majority deciding on an issue that affects the minority.