Canada partners with NGO to support rights of LGBTQ persons in Guyana  


Canada, through its global Fund for Local Initiatives, has partnered with EQUAL Guyana – a non-governmental human rights organisation – to raise recognition of the rights for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons in Guyana.

The signing of the agreement for the new project, which took place on Monday, not only coincides with Equal’s second year anniversary, but also with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

This day is observed annually on May 17, commemorating the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) provides modest funding for small-scale, high-impact projects in Guyana, Suriname and more than 120 other countries.

Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, attended the signing event on Monday, along with Canadian High Commissioner, Mark Berman and Managing Director of EQUAL Guyana, Anil Persaud at the High Commissioner’s Bel Air Gardens residence in Georgetown.

Canadian High Commissioner, Mark Berman (second left); Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira (third left) and Managing Director of EQUAL Guyana, Anil Persaud (second right) with other officials following the signing of the agreement (Photo: Canadian High Commission/May 17, 2021)

Teixeira said the government supports the project even as she hinted that part of the government’s difficulty with controversial legislative change was education.

“One of the challenges in changing law is getting the right information to people… I am happy to see the growth of civil society organisations dealing with rights of persons in the LGBTQ community… it is an important expression of the people to step out and associate themselves with the rights of these persons,” she said.

She told the small gathering that Guyana has a far way to go in offering LGBTQ persons the rights other countries have but noted that the government continues to empower, educate and engage.

“We have to reduce ignorance and intolerance… a lot has to do with lack of information and prejudice, sometimes prejudice based on nothing except prejudice,” Minister Teixeira added.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Berman said Canada welcomes the May 17th occasion to reaffirm the principle to which it is deeply committed and that is that no one should be subject to dissemination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than lending support to the LGBTQ community in Guyana through this partnership,” he added.

He said it is hoped that through this project awareness for the recognition of safety and security for LGBTQ persons would be raised. The project will contribute to greater recognition of rights for local LGBTQ persons.

In welcoming the project, Persaud said while EQUAL has been empowering, educating and engaging over the last two years to promote LGBTQ rights in Guyana, it remains cognisant of the realities and applaud the new project which will allow the work to continue in a non-confrontational manner.

“The new project is another element of the broad activism and advocacy goals of EQUAL Guyana,” he said.

Persaud said while the work EQUAL does is on a small scale it is targeted and it will go a long way in supporting mental health counselling and conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills training.

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