A recent study, on the perceptions and attitudes of Guyanese towards members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Guyana, revealed that almost half of those polled believe that the Government should prioritize legally protecting the rights of LGBT people.
According to the study, which was conducted by RMK Consulting Enterprise on behalf of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), 49.6% of the 1070 respondents indicated that the Government should legally protect the rights of LGBT people.
However, one-third of the respondents indicated that it should not be a priority, while 16.1% declined to comment on the matter.
According to Dr Marlon Anatol, a researcher with RMK, the findings suggest that a large portion of the population not only supports legal protection for LGBT people but thinks it is government’s responsibility and ought to be prioritized.
Further, the poll found that a clear majority of 53.9% of the Guyanese population are likely to support the elimination of the law criminalizing sex between men.
Last August, the National Assembly decriminalized cross-dressing, in keeping with a ruling handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). But while SASOD welcomed the legislative change, the human rights organization said steps must be taken to decriminalize same-sex intimacy. According to SASOD, the colonial-era laws are unconstitutional.
Based on the study, a significant percentage of Guyanese shares similar views with 28.4% of them indicating that they were very likely to support the elimination of the law that criminalizes sex between two men. However, 37% responded in the negative.
“When evaluating the negative and positive position of this statement, 53.9% respond in the affirmative and 46% respond in the negative. This would indicate majority support for eliminating Guyana’s existing law criminalizing sex between two men,” a section of the report explained.
The results also showed that 72% of the population was likely to support legislation that ensures protection against workplace discrimination for LGBT people in Guyana.
At the launch of the Report, SASOD Guyana’s Managing Director Joel Simpson said it was important for Guyana to abolish the colonial laws.
“We have been in a place where politicians have been saying that the society isn’t ready for change, but these results clearly indicate that the society is way ahead of its leaders and Guyana has changed significantly over the past decade.” Simpson said.
He added that “the evidence is now available to the Government of Guyana to support including protection for LGBT people in workplace anti-discrimination legislation.”
The study also found that positive attitudes towards LGBT people in Guyana have increased significantly over the last 9 years.
According to results from the 2022 poll, LGBT acceptance in Guyana has soared since the first-ever public opinion poll on LGBT people and issues was done by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) in 2013.
Back then only 19% of Guyanese had a positive attitude towards LGBT people. That percentage has now moved to 34.5%. In fact, 34.5% of the respondents said they were accepting of LGBT persons and another 37.9% exhibited a high level of tolerance. Only 12% of Guyanese indicated that they hated homosexuals. Another 15.6% declined to comment on the matter.
In total, almost three-quarters (72.4%) of the respondents indicated that they have positive attitudes towards persons who do not identify as heterosexual
The poll was conducted between June 18 and July 11, 2022, through a house-to-house exercise across most regions of Guyana.
RMK said the stratified random sample was representative of the Guyanese population in terms of sex, age, race, religious affiliation and other demographics, based on the 2012 National Census for Guyana.