Gay rights body to push for new laws to counter hate crimes, discrimination


A new study on the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons has found that there are significant gaps and local human rights body – SASOD – will use this analysis to push for new laws or much-needed legislative amendments.

A report on the study titled: ‘Piloting the LGBTI Inclusion index in Guyana’, was presented on Monday at the Herdmanston Lodge, Georgetown.

It found that LGBTI inclusion was strongest in the local health sector, then in the sphere of politics and civic participation. LGBTI inclusion in the areas of economic empowerment, education and personal safety and violence was found to be low.

These findings were based on an analysis of Guyana’s laws and policies.

Kesaundra Alves, the independent consultant who led the analysis, acknowledged that there are some good laws and policies in place but explained that there are gaps to be filled.

For example, she said Guyana has its Prevention of Discrimination Act but that law does not explicitly cater for the prevention of workplace discrimination on the grounds of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

On the plus side, however, political and civic participation is more inclusive.

“No laws restrict the freedom of expression, civic participation or association relates to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics,” she highlighted.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Joel Simpson said this report offers local human rights organisations the opportunity to better measure targeted interventions such as legislative change.

“The issue of inclusion refers to you making specific inclusion for disadvantaged groups… because you recognise that they’ve been marginalised,” he said.

As such, Simpson believes that SASOD and other partner associations are now better positioned to up their advocacy and lobbying efforts for much-needed legislative change.

He said the body will engage the Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton and Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud on getting the Prevention of Discrimination Act amended.

Because there is no legislation catering for the prevention of hate crimes, this will also be a focus.

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