January 18, 2011 – The International Resource Network
Gay Bashing in Georgetown Guyana
by Elan Era John
Panos Caribbean – HomosexualL men in Guyana are still finding it difficult to live free from fear of stigma and discrimination. These are everyday parts of their lives whether at school, work or accessing services from hospitals or transportation service providers. Kobe, a young openly homosexual man, said his experience with stigma and discrimination goes way back to his childhood when he was bullied and harassed. "Being in school, having persons tell you or trouble you and you would have to shift to doing certain things."
He explains some of the shifts he is forced to make to avoid the harassment. "If I see a set of guys liming at a corner I would walk around or take the longer route if that was the shorter route (to avoid passing there). …If I go back home right now to where I am from in Berbice I would experience a great deal of stigma in terms of verbal words. Most of the stigma that I receive is verbal words," he said.
Kobe said that although he has overcome being affected by words, some people take their attacks further than that. He said that up to the day before (being interviewed) while he was speaking on his cell phone, five young men were passing and one of them picked up a bottle to toss at him. "I stop at the time and I stand up, waiting to see if they were going to shy (hit) me with the bottle. When they realised that I am standing up there they start to say, ‘Oh, I am getting brave,’ and that sort of thing," he said. He added that the day before that incident he was actually pelted with a bottle by another set of 20-something-year-old guys. He said that most of the harassment that he receives would be in the form of people smiling in a mocking manner or nasty comments from older people.
Kobe works in a health facility. He says a lot of people know who he is. He thinks that because of this, he is able to access services quite comfortably, despite the occasional gesticulations from persons. But, the worst forms of discrimination come when he seeks access to public transportation. "You find that bus conductors and drivers may not stop to pick you up, or upon discovering the person’s orientation may not want that person in the bus. I go to shop and I get sold, I get (attended to). But even the taxi drivers, you have a big issue where they might not want to pick you up. They may slow down when flagged down but when they see who you are they drive away," he said.
He said that he has never confronted a transportation provider to know why he was asked to exit the bus. Instead he would simply comply with the demand to leave the car or bus. But there was one time when the minibus operator objected to him being in the bus and other passengers in support exited the bus also. Kobe said that the problem has been escalating of late and it has been costing him money to move around. Openly gay men have more difficulties when it comes to employment.
According to Kobe they sometimes have to be somebody else before they are given employment because of employers’ requirements for dress code. "Lots of young gay flamboyant men are unemployed because of this, and this may lead to them engaging in transactional sex. They may not go out there at night, but engage in it right in their homes. In their minds it is not sex work. They do it occasionally to get income to (supplement) support from family," Kobe explained. Gay men do experience sexual assaults.
Relating to an incident earlier in his life, Kobe said that when he was gang-raped, he could not go to the police nor could he tell his parents, because of the fear of stigma and discrimination. "When I got home I didn’t tell my family anything, I just told them I got robbed and dropped the matter," Kobe said. "The same is about telling the story over and over…and then to get the reaction from the police, a laugh or a smirk or a smile, and the questions that they ask," he said.
March 12, 2011 – Kaieteur News Online
Gov’t against sexual discrimination- but not ready to repeal laws against buggery, cross-dressing
The government on Thursday restated its position against discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, but stopped short of saying if it was ready to repeal laws which make it criminal for men to have sex with men or for anyone to cross-dress. By law, sexual intimacy between men is not allowed in Guyana, as is the case in most of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Leading figures in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including UN envoy Sir George Alleyne, have suggested that this hinders an effective public health response to the epidemic.
Further, a leading rights group is seeking to get the High Court to rule that the law against cross-dressing violates constitutional rights of individuals who wish to do so. “Cabinet did reflect on social responses to homosexuality and reiterated its position of not supporting discrimination of those whose sexual orientation offended contemporary social norms and also consequently any advocacy of such lifestyles,” Dr Roger Luncheon, the government’s chief spokesman said. But for the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), which has been leading the fight against homophobia, mere talk from the government would not do.
“If Cabinet is serious about its position of not discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, then they should be taking steps to repeal the laws that criminalise consensual same-sex behaviour. The Attorney General should be moving quickly to respond favourably to the constitutional challenge to the cross dressing laws which are now pending in Court,” SASOD said in an initial response to Luncheon’s comments. Further, SASOD charged that the Government should also be concerned about the homophobic statements by Mr Juan Edghill, Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission. According to SASOD, Edghill abused his office to wrongfully criticise the SASOD Film Festival in June 2010.
“To date, Mr Edghill has received no sanctions from the President despite the condemnation from several sections of the society,” the Society stated. SASOD said that while it is good to know that the Cabinet is letting its belief and positions known, “the transforming of the words into positive action is going to be more critical to the livelihood of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Guyanese, and to those who are working towards a society which accepts all forms of diversity.” SASOD has worked over the years to end homophobia and is representing a group of transgender people who have filed a motion for the Supreme Court to overturn the country’s law against cross dressing.
22 March 2011 – Pink Paper
Guyana keeps gay sex ban, opposes discrimination
by Rex Wockner
The government of the South American nation of Guyana said that it opposes both anti-gay discrimination and advocacy of gay "lifestyles", last week.
Gay activists called the statement inadequate and said that if the government wanted to lessen anti-gay discrimination, it should repeal laws that ban gay sex and cross-dressing. The ban on cross-dressing is being challenged at present in the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds.
June 27, 2011 – Stabroek News
Homosexuals… Dirty Words… and Me
By Stabroek staff
Nhojj has shared stages with Norah Jones, Regina Belle, and Taylor Dayne. Earlier this year, he debuted the groundbreaking marriage equality music video for the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.” Winner of 2 OUTMusic Awards (OMA), Nhojj was the 1st Black male to win an OMA, and was also the first out independent artist to reach #1 on MTV Music with a gay “Love” music video. He has released 6 CDs, 9 singles, and an “Unplugged Live” DVD filmed by Emmy-nominated director Bill Cote. Most recently he used his #1 Reggae CDBaby single, “The Gay Warrior Song” to raise awareness about Guyana’s LGBT Rights Organization – SASOD. “Nhojj has been delivering high-quality jazzy soul for nearly a decade. A soul pioneer… Soul Sessions congratulates soul singer Nhojj for being a Black history and a gay history first!” – BET/Centric TV Blog. For more visit"
I am a homosexual man. It took me a long time to admit this fact to myself, much less proclaim it from the proverbial mountain top. You see I grew up right here in this Dear Land of Guyana, I attended St. Margaret’s Primary School and St. Roses High School, and like every one of you, I grew up in a society firmly rooted in Western binary opposition. This complicated sounding term, I discovered, simply allows us to think and speak in opposites: right versus wrong; holy versus sinful; male versus female. More importantly, it denotes mutual exclusivity: one can‘t be the other. Life viewed solely through these contrasting lens has no grey area, no mixing of apples and oranges, no exotic concoctions – only stiff, archaic paradigms leaning against rival, irreconcilable walls. Hollywood blockbusters often exploit these polarities for our entertainment, but we know instinctively that they do not reflect the full spectrum of our lives. Our reality is never black and white; if it were so, life would be forever simple, but we know life is often complex. There is a truth that resides beneath these perceived dichotomies and there have always been individuals born outside of its walls, but our society so far has offered silence or a selection of dirty words for coping with them… and who wants to be a dirty word?
It is into this world that I was born, crying I’m sure, as all babies cry. Naturally, as children do, I adopted the stance and beliefs of my community, even when all the pieces did not fit. “Children obey your parents…” the Good Book says, and obey I did – I was as good as any little boy could be, but my good behaviour did not save me.
I don’t remember the first time a dirty word was hurled at me, but I do remember how the realization of its meaning shook me to the core. The word attempted to cast me into the hellish world of ‘them’ – the perpetual opposite of ‘us.’ Once that line was drawn in the dirt, the troops could be called in to destroy the newly identified enemy in our midst – the only problem was now that enemy was me! Of course at that age, I couldn’t articulate this, but I understood on a gut level that I was in real danger unless I ran for cover. Unfortunately pre-teen battle hideouts aren’t easy to come by, and the guns took aim. The attack began with random teenagers tossing the ugliness from across the street, and thankfully, escalated slowly. I say thankfully, because for many the attack escalates quickly resulting in dire consequences. At any rate, all those dirty little words banded together and generated the desired effect in me – shame. They planted in me, like in so many others, the desire to do a bit of sculpting, to recreate what God had obviously messed up. I think I only succeeded in burying my head in the sand and wasting precious years.
However, it would be a mistake to say my youth was all dirty words and hurt feelings – I did have the love of my family, I did well in school, and I had unlimited access to the transcending world of music. I would sing songs (of unknown origin) for hours from our veranda, until my mother gently suggested I sing songs (of known origin) from the pulpit. I sang these latter songs all the way through elementary school, high school, and college, in Guyana and, when I migrated with my family, to the United States.
September 8, 2011 – Government of Guyana
Guyana gets it right criminalising HIV will not work!
A statement from the Joint United Nations Team on AIDS in Guyana
Guyana’s Special Select Committee of Parliament on the Criminal Responsibility of HIV Infected Individuals has chosen not to make the transmission of HIV a criminal act. The Joint United Nations Team on AIDS, coordinated by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) congratulates the Parliamentary Committee for its mature and measured decision. Such a law would have deepened the climate of denial, secrecy and fear surrounding the virus in Guyana and in so doing reduce people’s willingness to learn their status and access treatment and support. Ironically, a measure meant to reduce the spread of HIV could have led to its increase.
Many of the countries that have enacted laws related to the criminalisation of HIV are now reviewing their stance because of the negative implications for public health and human rights. In February Denmark’s Minister of Justice announced the suspension of an HIV-specific criminal law. Last year the United States’ National AIDS Strategy raised concerns about such state laws while an official committee was set up in Norway to inform revision of their equivalent Penal Code provision. Just a few days ago, world leading scientists and medical practitioners joined legal experts and civil society representatives to discuss the scientific, medical, legal and human rights aspects of the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission. The meeting, organized by UNAIDS, took place in Geneva from 31 August to 2 September.
Participants reviewed key scientific, medical, public health and legal principles that should inform the application of the criminal law to HIV. They also discussed the recent developments in a number of countries where the criminalization of HIV is being reconsidered.
Rejecting the approach of broad criminalization does not mean that people who maliciously infect others should go unpunished. Existing laws relating to assault and criminal negligence under the Criminal Law (Offences) Act can be used in such cases.
Guyana’s judicial system must then ensure that any application of these general criminal laws to HIV transmission is in keeping with the country’s international human rights commitments. Prior knowledge, deceit or coercion, willfulness and intent must be proven in such cases. This means that convictions should meet the golden legal standard for determination of guilt and not have the dangerous effect of casting all HIV positive people as potential criminals.
Strides in the HIV response are hard-won but possible. According to Guyana’s 2010 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Country Progress Report between 2001 and 2009 Guyana experienced a 14 percent reduction in its adult HIV prevalence from 1.4 percent to 1.2 percent. This demonstrates that there has been payoff for gains made in blood safety, antiretroviral treatment and prevention of parents to child transmission.
September 12, 2011 – Guayana News and Information
Youth rises above rape, HIV+ status to become rights advocate
Weathering a slew of bad experiences, 24-year-old Korey Anthony Chisholm has been able to take the negatives in his life and turn them into positives, displaying resilience beyond his years. Korey is no ordinary young man. In fact, if he had allowed what life has thrown at him to get the better of him he would not have been here today. But instead he planted his feet firmly on the ground, seemingly made stronger by adversity.
Brutally raped by two men at the age of 16, becoming infected with HIV and being a gay man in a society that is still intolerant to homosexuality are just some of the hardships Korey has battled and is still dealing with. But he has not allowed these events to make him cower. As an HIV infected individual he has only allowed this to improve his advocacy for the rights of the most vulnerable. As a gay man who still struggles in a society that is intolerant, he has strengthened his resolve to fight for the rights of peers who have no means of doing so themselves.
Korey has no self-esteem issues. In fact, he says his self-esteem is way above his small stature. “My self-esteem is here [he raises his hand above his head] and any time I feel it getting here [he points to his nose] I shake myself and get it back up where it is supposed to be.” His experience of being collared by three men on a Georgetown street just as evening approached and taken to a dark corner where two of them stripped him naked and brutally raped him is one that would make anyone stop and listen. And that is just what he does; he makes people listen as he is not afraid to talk about his experiences which he sees as a means of helping others who may be having difficult times.
He escaped from his attackers by grabbing his top and running through the streets naked and bleeding. He finally pulled the top, which was long, over his head and ran to the bus park where he begged for a drop home. The stares and whispers from those at the park and in the bus indicated to Korey that persons suspected what had happened to him. When he got home he told relatives that he had been robbed. Korey was later rushed to the hospital complaining of pains and he told the doctor he was punched in the stomach repeatedly while being robbed “and he gave me some pain tablets and that was it”. But the experience left Korey with lasting emotional trauma…
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21 September, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
First hand account of a recent transphobic attack in Guyana
by Lloyd edun
A little after 12 midnight the brutal and vicious attack occurred. I had arrived at Ocean View or Samsair commonly known after being begged by another gay friend Eon known as Akela. Leaving a movie I was watching I purchased earlier in the day. This this attack occurred at a popular gay friendly bar (so I thought) I usually go sometimes once or twice a month. My other gay friends and I were seated at the extreme right of the Bar. The incident started when three persons standing outside the building and were hurling negative comment like “batty man gaf fu dead” through ventilation holes in the concrete wall. It was directly behind where I was seated so I stood up with the intention to say to the guys that we are not there for problem just to have leisure time like everyone else. As I stood up, one of the persons threw some liquid in my face and I soon realized it was Mackeson. I was shocked and instinctively threw the half glass of drink in my hand in return in a like a reflex action. They soon ran off. I thought that was the end of it. About twenty minutes or about half of an hour later I went outside to get some air because the inside of the location gets hot very quickly. At that moment a young East Indian man whom I recognized because he had approached me on three different occasions for sex, but I told him I have someone and does not sleep around whom I later learned is Reeaz and his call name is Boyo came up to me accusing me of telling his friends that they threw drink in my face I responded that I did not accuse anyone since I was unable to see exactly who the persons were, as I did not have a clear view of them when the drink was thrown.
Boyo became very aggressive and ran for a chair and he and my friend Cream began to ague ahead of me closer to the building. I decided that this was getting too much for me so I decided to head back into the building and Boyo and two other friends block my way. I try to push my way to safety and then is when they began beating me and another friend joined in but I was terrified who was sitting in a yellow car about three feet away. I was terrified and spell bound as I felt kicks, I saw Boyo breaking a bottle and I felt a sharp burning on my face and liquid which I realized was blood start running down my face. I cupped my face and turned to avoid further damage to my face. The blows continued mercilessly as I felt pains at different parts of my body from the kicks, cuffs and which cause me to fall to the ground. I felt another sharp burning in my back and I felt blood start running down my back. During the assault they were saying we gon kill antyman. Battyman got fo dead, they spat on me. My other friends who were alerted by Cream came out and saw what t was happening and my assailant drove away. I was horrified in shock and traumatized. I could not believe this was happening to me a person who does not believe in violence.
My friends took me inside the building where I was bleeding profusely. One of my friends called the police and while on the floor bleeding I heard someone saying the police are here. I felt that the police was there to my rescue however I heard the police left to my dismay, I felt that they left because it was a gay person who was attacked. My friend called a car and I was taken to the police station and my friend gave a brief report on my behalf since I was not a state to provide a report. The police upon seeing my state recommended that I seek medical attention immediately.
When I arrived with two other gay friends at the hospital, the porters were reluctant to carry me because as I was unable to walk independently. So my friend had to take me with the wheelchair provided. I was there bleeding and medical staff and security and porters were coming to the emergency door and peeping. Some of the porters were echoing negative comments like fire and I try blocking what I was hearing out since I was in tremendous pain and could not bear to assimilate what I was hearing. I thought the human side would have sufficed looking at the condition I was in, I was sadly mistaken. I was there about 1 am was not attended to until about 6:30 am the next morning day clean. The doctored felt that my lungs may have been punctured because of the depth of the stab wound so he ordered a x-ray after stitching the gash to my left cheek with thirteen sutures and three to the back if it were loosed out later. While attending to me the doctor remarked was a horrible shift he was having. I told him I am sorry to make his horrible and he responded that it was not me alone who made his shift horrible.
Even one of the clients commented that they should have killed me; this was a male person near the dispensary. All along the porters were say fire among other negative comments that I try to block out from hearing. On more than one occasion I begged the staff to allow me to leave to go to a private institution with the possibility that I can still get a medical for the police report but was told that a medical from a private institution will not be accepted by the police. I told the Doctor of the severe pain that I am feeling on my left pelvic region from the stamping and kicking I received.
Later that day I contacted Ms. Miriam Edwards of the Guyana Sex Worker Coalition who also advocate for transgender rights, she render assistance to me and provided me with a safe place to tidy up and compose myself. Three east Indian young men were peering through the hollow concrete blocks and made a derogatory remark about antiman. Because I was sitting boyo the tall one …. Bobby in montrose yard. Living in broad street. ….. Usie to be livin with his mother Sanndrastarlite last gate second to last street six houses on your right.
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