Laws which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will be subject to review and this will not necessarily depend on a referendum, according to Attorney General (AG) Senior Counsel, Basil Williams.
Mr. Williams made the pronouncement on Monday during a meeting with the representatives of the Society Against Sexual Orientation (SASOD) and Guyana Trans United (GTU).
According to SASOD, AG Williams pointed out that the referendum is just one option being proposed but it is not a Cabinet decision or the government’s official position on the issue.
Just recently, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had said that issue of decriminalising homosexuality could be decided through a referendum – an option several civil society groups have since rejected.
Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson expressed at the meeting that the organisation is “totally against” the idea of a referendum on any human rights issue, but that the group remains willing to engage parliamentarians on the issue.
Guyana is the only South American country that still has laws against same sex intimacy.
Now, the Attorney General has requested that SASOD submits a draft bill to his office to include sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) under the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997.
SASOD has called for an amendment to the Prevention of Discrimination Act (1997), to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as grounds for discrimination. The body contends that the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the act will protect persons who identify as lesbian, gay and bi-sexual, while “gender identity” will protect transgender persons.
In addition, the human rights group wants the Non-discrimination clause in Article 149 (2) of the Constitution to be amended. Again, SASOD believes that the inclusion of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in that clause, will prevent persons who identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender from being discriminated against.
SASOD also took the time to clarify that the organisation at this time is not advocating for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, but rather legislative protection from discrimination for LGBT persons.