LGBTQ+ group seeks gov’t, opposition support to fight workplace discrimination

Hopes for much-needed law amendments by early next year

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For years, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has been lobbying for law amendments needed to prevent workplace discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Now, the group is pushing for bipartisan support for this legislative change.

This is according to SASOD’s Managing Director Joel Simpson, who recently told the News Room that the organisation is focused on getting Guyana’s 1997 Prevention of Discrimination Act amended.

Currently, the Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on: “race, sex, religion, colour, ethnic origin, indigenous population, national extraction, social origin, economic status, political opinion, disability, family responsibilities, pregnancy, marital status or age…”

SASOD has, however, been advocating for the prohibition of discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

This is viewed as necessary since members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community often encounter harrowing instances of discrimination in the workplace.

And Simpson explained that these amendments are not controversial and he believes that once enough groundwork is done, the Act could enjoy government and opposition support in the National Assembly.

“We are really trying to take a bipartisan approach even though this is ordinary legislation and can be approved by the government’s majority in the house.

“We think it benefits the population more, it benefits all of us if we can see some kind of unison if we don’t have this issue maligned and used as a political football,” the Managing Director underscored.

Members of the private sector and trade unions, Simpson said, have already been engaged. They have signalled their support for this move.

Now, SASOD, with assistance from international agencies, is hoping to finish the draft Bill soon and possibly have the amendments tabled in early 2023.

Ideally, Simpson believes that the Minister of Labour should table the legislation on behalf of the government.

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