LGBTQ community should be involved in country’s development – EQUAL Guyana
Director of Empowering Queers using Artistic Learning (EQUAL) Anil Persaud has issued a call for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community to play a more meaningful and tangible role in the development of the country.
“We cannot be left on the sidelines and disregarded, we must work together as a cohesive country. The LGBTQ community exists and we’re not going anywhere,” Persaud said at a reception held at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Georgetown on Thursday night in honour of the organisation’s third anniversary.
Persaud said Guyana is home to LGBTQ+ persons as much as anyone else and as such the planning and implementation of programmes and initiatives must also benefit this group of people.
“There are many young, competent, experienced and capable LGBTQ persons in Guyana, who have lived experiences and who must play an integral role in creating development programmes,” Persaud said.
EQUAL’s third anniversary also coincided with International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB).
EQUAL was launched in May 2019 to utilise art to empower the LGBTQ community.
Persaud expressed thanks for the unwavering support for the organisation over the past few years from the British High Commission, the Canadian High Commission, and COC Netherlands among others.
“Your support, whether in the form of finances or any other means, has assisted us in reaching constituents across multiple regions of Guyana, and has enabled us to actively implement what we call our three agenda, to engage to educate and to empower,” Persaud stated.
He said the organisation has been able to create safe spaces for community building and networking; share information and education; conduct gender and sexual diversity training; peacebuilding workshops and online campaigns.
EQUAL was able to offer free psychological support, counselling and therapy to LGBTQ persons.
“Further, our work has gone beyond our fun activities like our therapy and our mixers and our training and we’ve extended to more behind the scenes and lobbying the government to create positive change,” Persaud said.
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller during brief remarks, acknowledged there is stigma and discrimination towards the LGBTQ community worldwide.
“I’m very proud that the UK is a champion for LGBT rights and in our view, it is wrong to discriminate. It is wrong to stigmatise anybody for who they are, and for whom they choose love,” the High Commissioner said.
She said the UK will continue to support ‘human rights defenders’ highlighting the UK’s strong legislation that tackles and prevents discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
“Many countries, including Guyana, have inherited laws that came originally from the UK but the UK has changed which is why we are championing around the world changes in legislation that stop the stigma and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”
Further, the High Commissioner said promoting LGBTQ rights is not just the right thing to do but also supports the economy.
“We all know that more inclusive and diverse groups make better decisions. And there’s economic evidence that inclusive organisations, inclusive businesses perform better because they retain talent,” the High Commissioner said.