British Diplomat impressed with local tolerance, says law revision needed to stem discrimination

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The United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Guyana and a champion for human rights, Jane Miller, OBE, is impressed by the tolerance of local for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

But despite the high levels of tolerance, Miller believes it is time for revisions to local laws which criminalises same sex engagements and perpetuate discrimination.

The British Diplomat’s statement was made during a reception at her residence on Friday night to commemorate the United Nations’ International Human Rights Day, celebrated each year on December 10 and marks the end of the 2021 UNiTE campaign.

With the theme for Human Rights Day being “equality” and amid renewed conversations on removing discrimination, Miller hosted the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination – SASOD – a local rights organisation.

She said ending inequality across the world and removing discrimination was not the only issue that needs addressing Guyana.

“It is very appropriate to host SASOD. Discrimination and human rights are something I personally feel passionate about. Whether about gender, age or ability, or people and sexual orientation.

“I’m impressed since being here in Guyana the work that I have seen against sexual violence… and I am impressed seeing the tolerance for LGBT but there are still steps to go,” High Commissioner Miller said.

She said the next steps must be about addressing legislation and tackling small pockets of discrimination which has seen barriers to accessing public services.

“Access to services is absolutely critical and ensuring there is no barrier,” she added.

In brief remarks, SASOD’s Managing Director Joel Simpson talked about the resilience of members of the LGBT community.

Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD (Photo: News Room/ August 11, 2021)

 

After 18 years of advocacy-based work by SASOD, Simpson said that resilience was tested more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that LGBT persons are among the vulnerable group which suffers from inequalities and existing discrimination, pushing members to work in informal sectors.

Because of that, a majority of LGBT persons were affected in the last year and the true nature of the inequality they suffer laid bare.

“It was no surprise to us that we were dealing with a situation where the most vulnerable were the most impacted,” he added.

Looking ahead, Simpson said, the years ahead will be about rebuilding better, fairer and rebuilding greener.

“Going forward it can’t be business as usual and we have to do things differently.”

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