Packed ‘Pride Festival’ returns in June

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After a two-year Covid-19 imposed hiatus, The Guyana Pride Festival, like many others around the world, is coming back out on June 19th, 2022.

The Guyana LGBTQ Coalition launched the bigger and better festival at the Residence of the British High Commissioner Jane Miller under the theme “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights”.

Boasting various public events, “Pride” is about acceptance, equality, and raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. The events range from a Virtual Faith Forum, Drag Fest, and the staple Pride Parade on Saturday, July 16th, 2022.

At the simple launch, the British High Commissioner underlined her country’s support for the LGBTQ community in Guyana and globally, sharing that “the UK is very proud of being a champion for LGBT rights”.

“LGBT rights are fundamental human rights,” she said.

“We are committed to the principle that everyone, everywhere should be able to love the person they love,” she added.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller shares a light moment with Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson (News Room)

Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD invited all Guyanese to take part in the festival and shared that the LGBTQ community has a right to freedom of expression, like all Guyanese, as enshrined in the constitution.

Despite this, Simpson also shared that little progress has been made to repeal laws criminalising same-sex intimacy. “We have heard some rhetoric to support amending the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997 which deals with the right to work, to include sexual orientation, sex characteristics and identity and gender expression. At least in the context of labour rights, the right to work, the workplace, there would be some protection for LGBTQ people who often suffer discrimination,” he stated.

To understand the importance of the Guyana Pride Festival, the News Room asked two members of the Guyana Trans United Society to share stories from their daily lives.

Omatola Edwards Prevention Officer, Guyana Trans United Society, said that sometimes the simple act of walking down the road in Guyana can easily become violent. She said she had objects thrown at her just for being her authentic self.

The simple act of catching a bus can be a daily humiliating experience shared Kaira Annamay, Peer Educator, Guyana Trans United Society. “I live in Region Three and…you’re standing on the public road waiting on the bus, when the bus stop, ‘oh it’s not a woman, it’s a homosexual, gay’ or in Guyanese terms, ‘a anti-man’; so, the bus would just drive away and I would feel offended.”

Kaira Annamay(left), Peer Educator and Omatola Edwards (right), Prevention Officer Guyana Trans United Society

Regardless of the experiences, she continues to face in Guyana, Ms Edwards left this message for persons who may not agree with the choices of the LGBTQ community: “Allow people to live; spread love and not hate.”

The full schedule for the Guyana Pride Festival 2022 can be found on the members of The Guyana LGBTQ Coalition social media pages: Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow), Guyana Trans United (GTU) and SASOD Guyana.

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