In preparation for the 21st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the SRI, with support from coalition-member Akahata, collaborated with the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) (a Guyanese human rights organization dedicated to achieving equality and justice for all, particularly those who experience discrimination based on their sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression), to prepare a stakeholder submission for Guyana’s review.
The report focuses on discrimination experienced by those with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. The report calls on the Government of Guyana to:
- Educate members of the uniformed forces (police, prison and army) and evaluate their performance based on their obligations in terms of non-discriminatory treatment towards marginalised groups, especially LGBT people
- Investigate, and punish where necessary, discriminatory and abusive behaviour by the uniformed forces
- Amend Article 149 of the Guyana Constitution to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination in order to provide legal protection for LGBT people’s right to equality and non-discrimination
- Repeal Sections 351 to 353 of the Criminal Law Offenses Act Chapter 8:01 which criminalise same-sex/gender intimacy between consenting adult men in private
- The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security should include training on human rights and vulnerable groups, especially LGBT people, in the curriculum for police officers training college
- Repeal section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02 which sanctions cross-dressing thereby facilitating arbitrary arrests, police harassment and abuse, targeted violence and other forms of discrimination against transgender people
- Remove Juan Edgehill as a Government Minister and from all state
- Recall Juan Edgehill as a Member of Parliament as he has flagrantly incited hatred and intolerance in the public sphere in direct contravention of the Guyana constitution positions as he has blatant disregard
for international human rights standards and fundamental rights and freedom in the Guyana constitution
- Amend section 4 of the Prevention of Discrimination Act, Chapter 99:09 , to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination in employment, training and recruitment
- Conduct continuous sensitivity training of healthcare workers on providing optimum care to LGBT
- Ensure all healthcare facilities adopt policies which unequivocally prohibit discrimination of all of persons accessing healthcare and have measures in place to sanction persons who violate these regulations
- Implement mechanisms for reporting and redress where teachers and other public servants who abuse children in their care, including because of their real or perceived SOGI, are held accountable for their misconduct
- Review the Sex and Sexuality theme in the Health and Family Life curriculum, and incorporate objective information on sexual orientation and gender identity
- Include training in the Cyril Potter Teachers College curriculum on managing “conflicting values” and understanding sexuality , gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and bodily diversity
The SRI partnered with 7 organizations in 5 countries to produce 6 reports for the 21st session of the UPR. All reports can be accessed here.
Below is the article, originally posted via SASOD, summarizing the press conference.
“On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at a press conference held in the Burbon Room at the Sidewall Café, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) launched a damning 11-page report on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights in Guyana.
SASOD, submitting the report along with the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), reported homophobic Government Minister Juan Edghill to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council for hate speech, as a violation of the Guyana Constitution and international human rights law, and called for his removal. SASOD also presented a 15-point list of recommendations to the Government of Guyana.
In giving a synopsis of the report, SASOD’s Social Change Consultant, Ms. Tiffany Barry outlined the 15 recommendations posited by SASOD. The recommendations include educating members of the uniformed forces and evaluating their performances based on their obligations in terms of non-discriminatory treatment towards marginalized groups; repeal sections 351 to 353 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Chapter 8:01 and 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02 which criminalise same-sex/gender intimacy between consenting adult men in private and cross-dressing, respectively; amend section 4 of the Prevention of Discrimination Act, Chapter 99:09, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination in employment, training and recruitment; among others.
The report titled “On Devil’s Island: A UPR Submission on LGBT Human Rights in Guyana” was submitted a month ago on June 15, the same day that Minister within the Ministry of Finance Juan Edghill made hate-inciting comments on Hard Talk – a local radio programme on iRadio – describing homosexuality as “destructive, unwholesome and unhealthy” saying it should not be tolerated in the Guyanese society.
In his remarks, Managing Director of SASOD, Mr. Joel Simpson said that “Edghill’s inflammatory edict amounts to hate speech as described by Article 146 (3) of the Guyana constitution as “speeches or other expressions, in whatever form, capable of exciting hostility or ill-will against any person or class of persons.” He further went on to say, “We are therefore calling for his removal as a Government Minister and Member of Parliament as this is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms under the Guyana constitution.”
Others government representatives who have made comments on LGBT issues over the past month were PPP/C’s Member of Parliament Manzoor Nadir stating that the outcry to scrap anti–LGBT laws is a “storm in a teacup” issue; and Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixeira’s recent remarks that “there is no fast track… to see change and support new rights.” Simpson questioned “which rock Nadir is living under” citing monthly media reports of violence, discrimination and injustice against LGBT Guyanese and multiple reports from the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Law, SASOD and other groups. Simpson also responded to Teixeira declaring “yes, there is a fast track way. It’s political leadership and our government sorely lacks this when it comes to human rights issues.” He reiterated the call for better protection of existing human rights for LGBT people, rebuffing Teixeira’s salvo that these are “new rights.””
The Sexual Rights Initiative has launched a Universal Periodic Review (URP) Sexual Rights database. This database allows you to access and search all the sexual rights related recommendations and references made during the Universal Periodic Review through several categories including: State under Review, Source of Reference, Type of Reference and Thematic Issue, using either the basic or advanced search options. For more information, click here.