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Rich nations pushing Guyana to start discussions on same-sex relations


GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Guyana is being urged to begin discussions on legalising same-sex relations as the global community observed ‘International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia’ yesterday.

In a joint statement issued here, the diplomatic representatives of the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union (ABCEU) said that they were encouraging “Guyana’s civil society and political leaders to embark on a process of engagement and change in 2021 with the aim of decriminalising intimate same-sex relations”.

The day is observed annually on May 17, commemorating the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

“We are proud to see that countries in the hemisphere have taken concrete steps toward the elimination of discrimination against LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex) persons in the past year,” according to the statement released by the Western diplomats.

The day was observed under the theme ‘Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing’, and the diplomats acknowledged that there are stumbling blocks but urged the need to respect human rights.

“We understand and respect that countries are at different stages of acceptance and engagement on this issue. Nevertheless, human rights of all persons are universal and indivisible, and these include the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

According to the statement, with 69 countries still criminalising same-sex relations, millions of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people live in fear of being who they are and showing whom they love.

They said also that transgender people are subjected to punishments in at least 37 countries and experience unprecedented levels of violence across the globe.

Further, they noted that regarding this international observation, all people can come together and continue dialogue efforts and collaboration with partner states and civil society organisations with the aim of ending discrimination and violence against the vulnerable LGBTQI+ population.

“On this day, let’s raise our voices and recommit our efforts to put human dignity at the heart of all that we do to build more just and more inclusive societies.”

In November 2018 the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is Guyana’s highest court, ruled that a law here which makes it a criminal offence for a man or a woman to appear in a public place while dressed in clothing of the opposite sex for an “improper purpose”, is unconstitutional.

The CCJ ruled that the law, Section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, is to be struck from the laws of Guyana.

The case before the CCJ was brought after four of the appellants, who identify as transgender persons, were arrested, convicted and punished for cross-dressing in public. At the time, they were dressed in skirts and were wearing wigs.

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