January 26, 2001 – Stabroek News, Georgetown, Guyana
Sexual orientation bill going back to parliament
by Patrick Denny
The bill banning discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation is to be sent back to Parliament for review following the maelstrom over whether it would in effect legalise homosexual relations. Unanimously passed by the National Assembly earlier this month, it has not yet been assented to by the President and is therefore not law. Representatives of religious groups and three parliamentary parties who met at the Office of the President yesterday agreed that the Constitution (Amendment) (No.5) Bill should be sent back to the National Assembly for its reconsideration.
The move to return the bill is almost without precedent and, according to a knowledgeable source, there is no precedent for dealing with a bill which is returned by the President and is subsequently amended. In returning the bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly, according to the Constitution, President Jagdeo would have to indicate his reasons for so doing. If it is not amended and is returned unaltered after a two-thirds vote by the Assembly, President Jagdeo is required to assent to it within 21 days unless he dissolves the Assembly earlier.
The legislation, among other things enshrines as a fundamental right a person’s right not to be discriminated against on the basis of his/her sexual orientation. It was approved by the National Assembly by a 55-0 vote on January 4, and was based on recommendations from the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC). The Christian, Hindu and Islamic communities were represented on the CRC. Their representatives were Rev Keith Haley and attorneys-at-law Vidyanand Persaud and Shahabudeen McDoom respectively. Sections of the religious community have over the past two weeks been waging a rearguard battle to have the sexual orientation ground removed from the fundamental rights section of the amended Constitution. It fears that the bill would have far-reaching effects including the legalisation of “same-sex marriages” and the admission of homosexuals in the army.
Answering questions from reporters after the meeting, Guyana Council of Churches (GCC) chairman, Bishop Juan Edgehill said that while the GCC was supportive of the amendment prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it did not want the ban to be enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right. The meeting was called by President Jagdeo to have the issue discussed so as to agree on a way forward in addressing the concerns of the churches. The representatives of the church had previously met President Jagdeo and he had assured them that he would not assent to the bill so that they could have an opportunity to lobby the parliamentary parties.
President Jagdeo told reporters after the meeting that recommitting the bill would give the parties an opportunity to revisit it to see if the concerns expressed could be addressed. He said too that he was anxious to get the other sections of the legislation enacted such as the provisions dealing with gender equity and the right to education and to work. President Jagdeo said that he had advised the representatives of the religious community to lobby the PNC for its support for the process that the meeting decided should be adopted.
Bishop Edgehill, one of the leading opponents of the bill, said that he had welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issue with the representatives of the parliamentary parties—the PPP/Civic, The United Force (TUF) and the Alliance for Guyana (AFG). He said that the discussion on the issue had been cordial, useful and spirited and that the GCC representatives would be contacting the PNC Reform to get its support for the procedure for reconsidering the bill. He disagreed with the suggestion that the church leaders had the opportunity to study the bill before it was approved by the National Assembly. It was sanctioned by the Joint Management Committee on which the PPP/Civic and the PNC are represented.
Fazeel Ferouz a representative of the Moslem community said that he had been thankful for the opportunity to discuss the way forward. He said that the amendment in question was disturbing to his community and the society at large and that his organisation would be working with the parties to get the amendment changed to its satisfaction. Chandra Gajraj, who represented the Hindu community at the meeting said that she was not convinced that the amendment, which she supported, would legalise homosexuality.
Responding to questions about the position of the Catholic Church which supported the amendment, Bishop Edgehill said that the pastoral letter to the Catholic faithful said that the bill had offered an opportunity for the church to exercise compassion. However, he asserted that the position being advocated by the GCC was not a campaign of hate against homosexuals, whom he said the church welcomes with open arms.
Recommittal of the bill, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine who represented the AFG at the meeting said, would allow for generating the widest possible support for the fundamental rights section of the Constitution. Aubrey Collins, who represented TUF and was also a member of the CRC, said that the party was thankful to the religious community for highlighting the possible far-reaching effects of the amendment.
July 24, 2003 – Associated Press
Guyana debates gay rights bill Groups advocate calm discussions
Georgetown, Guyana – Parliament was debating a constitutional amendment to outlaw sexual discrimination Thursday, despite calls by a human rights group to postpone the vote. Saying the bill had upset and divided Guyana’s socially conservative society, the Guyana Human Rights Association said more time was needed for emotions to cool. "We do not want to turn this debate on the bill into another theater of division, and frankly we feel that there has not been enough time for a proper debate in the country," said the group’s leader, Mike McCormack. He also said the debate has exposed Guyana’s small homosexual community to unwanted criticism and ridicule. Proponents have argued that freedom from sexual discrimination is a fundamental human right, while detractors say the bill would lead to a loosening of morals and sanctioning of homosexuality.
Among religious groups only the Roman Catholic Church has voiced support for the bill, while other Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Bahai groups all have warned it would be a first step toward legalizing same-sex marriages and child adoption by gay or lesbian couples. The constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of the 65 members in the National Assembly, though both the opposition and governing parties have said most of their members will block its passage. Two years ago, legislators passed the bill unanimously. But it was vetoed by President Bharrat Jagdeo, who said he was bowing to pressure from religious groups. The legislators later said they passed the bill, which was part of a wider measure to establish human rights, because they did not notice the references to sexual orientation in its wording.
Supporting the rights group’s call for postponing Thursday’s vote, the Anglican Church said the issue had caused "new fault lines" to appear in a society already divided racially and politically. The population of about 700,000 is almost evenly split between blacks, who support the opposition, and those of East Indian descent, who mainly back the governing party. Sixty percent are Christians, while Hindus make the second largest religious group with about 30 percent. "Until we can resolve this matter legally without fear of generating further divisions, we should not rush to legislative changes," said Bishop Randolph George of the Anglican Church of Guyana.
March 31, 2004 – Advocate.com (glbt)
Shooting at gay wedding in Guyana injures one
Police said Monday they were looking for a man who opened fired on a gay wedding reception in Georgetown, Guyana, over the weekend, hitting a participant in the chest. Gay weddings are illegal in the South American country of 770,000, and police said they planned to revoke the marriage license of whoever performed the ceremony.
The couple began to attract attention on Sunday afternoon when they went to the botanical gardens in Georgetown to take pictures. The couple had likely just been married in a private ceremony, police said. When people at the gardens realized the bride was a man in a dress, dozens began to crowd around them. Some cheered while others cursed.
The couple then left quickly in a car to a private house where a reception was planned. An hour later a man arrived at the reception and opened fire, injuring one man before everyone dispersed and the attacker fled. Police said the injured man was in stable condition at a local hospital.
June 5, 2008 – stabroeknews.com
Foreigners should not have to tell us about unacceptable behaviour
I am really disgusted about the renewed flare-up of discussions about homosexuality in Guyana. I am disgusted that these discussions now need to be taken up by politicians, such as honourable Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Member of Parliament and Minister of Health, as well as distinguished representatives of the United Nations such as Dr Ruben Del Prado from UNAIDS, who tell us that we must look again at the laws of Guyana that criminalize homosexuals. It is sad they are the ones to tell us that we have to stop, “the backward, archaic and unacceptable behaviour of discriminating against any person on the basis of sexual orientation.”
I am disgusted that I have to read in our Guyanese newspapers and on blogs that “the recognition of sexual minorities, as components of our civil societies, and the acknowledgement of the equality of their human rights, will contribute to learning how to live together, which is the learning of democracy, decency and respect.”
I am, quite frankly, getting more and more angry as I am writing this as a Guyanese father of two daughters and three sons. Two are still young: a son of 11 and a daughter of 14, who have to grow up to adulthood in our society. The other daughter, my oldest child, is a practising veterinarian in Canada and two sons are in the USA. One is studying law, and the other, an architect to be, is actually the one who alerted me to the sickening media and web coverage of these debates about the rights of lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgendered persons. He keeps in touch with his motherland through reading the daily newspapers on-line. This is, by the way, the only way that he wishes to stay in touch with Guyana. He too is disgusted and moreover… he is afraid.
He is afraid that, as a 26 year old, intelligent young man, his private and emotional life is being threatened, abused and ridiculed.
My wife and I brought him up, just like the other four children in a loving household, and as a good Christian I deplore the fact that my Guyanese society that allows politicians and international friends to tell us that we are bigots and hypocrites.
I realize that I must be careful, because I hold a sensitive position that doesn’t allow me to be more explicit than I am now. And I am sorry that I can therefore not put my name under this letter to the editor.
My wife too is sickened by remarks that her son’s life and that of his loving same-sex partner are deemed ‘unaccepted’ and ‘unacceptable.’ “Why?” do we wonder, is there this religious obsession with homosexuality? Is there no other and better role for the churches, the temples and the mosques to play? Why not address our real social ills?
Why not address the other real sins that are plastered all over the Bible and the Qu’ran? What about striving to be spiritual congregations to eradicate poverty, violence and crime? I miss my son in our home and I am sorry that he left for reasons that are more than pursuing his education. He does not even want to come to Guyana on vacation because here he cannot be who he truly is.
Stigma, disrespect and discrimination are sickening epidemics in our Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Disgusted and appalled as I am, until our repulsively obsessive Guyanese society shapes up to be considered normal and behaving within the 21st century, people like my wife and I, and many others must reluctantly rely on people like Leslie Ramsammy, Ruben Del Prado and Mirta Roses from PAHO who attempt to make things better for us.
When will Guyanese realize that the inclusion of everyone is needed to build and sustain our society? Thank you SASOD, homegrown heroes, for daring to speak out. I dream that one day, in my lifetime, my son can return home to build roads and bridges and dams to improve the infrastructure of our land, as a fully accepted human being, for all that he is. Just as the Divine Creator has meant him to be.
(Name and address provided)
February 2009 – demerarawaves.com
Male cross-dressers convicted
Seven transvestites were Monday fined a total of US$225 (GUY$45,000) for dressing in female clothing and three of them were fined an additional US$30 (GUY$6,000) for damaging a bus trunk while retaliating against people who were troubling them because they were gay. Chief Magistrate, Melissa Robertson-Ogle, in handing down the penalty of US$37.50 (GUY$7,500) each observed that a number of the males were confused about their sexuality, as they were at pains to explain to the court what they were wearing and why they preferred that mode of dress. "It’s a curse on the family. Go to church and give your lives to Christ,” the magistrate told them.
They were each placed on US$50 (GUY$10,000) bail and ordered to return to court next month to answer the loitering charges. Quincy Mc Ewan,24, of Norton Street Lodge; Seon Clarke, 28, of Bent Street and Leon Conway, 38, all pleaded not guilty to the charges of being attired in female clothing and loitering on 6th February at North Road, Lacytown. Clarke’s defence was that they were clad in "unisex" clothing and had arranged to meet in the City to attend a show at the National Cultural Centre but at the moment the police suddenly swooped down on them.
Among the descriptions of clothing they gave the court were "passa passa" tight jeans, a jacket with tights, hard jeans, a jacket and tube-top. But the prosecutor insisted that the accused had been all wearing skirts at the time of their arrest. The were each fined for being a being a man in any public way pr public place for any improper purpose, appears in female attire. But another four transvestites– Anthony Best ,21, of Bourda; Joseph Fraser ,21, of Norton street; Joshua Peters, 21, of Victoria Road, Plaisance, and Seyon Persaud, 20,– all pleaded guilty to wearing female attire and damage to property. Their clothing-descriptions included a jersey and overcoat, a skirt and designer top, a black dress, and short skirt with red top.
Police said that on 6th February, the quartet were nabbed, dressed in female clothing. The transvestites said they had worn those types of clothing. They added that they were unemployed because no one prefers to employ gays. The prosecution, supported by the virtual complainant Steve Dunlop, told the court that Fraser stole one cellular phone from him valued US$450 (GUY$90,000) and also pelted a bus drunk resulting in damage to the tune of US$60 (GUY$12,000). Dunlop alleged that Best was at the Timehri Bus park when a number of persons began troubling him and Best later returned with several others and began belting despite his plea for them not to do so. The four were each ordered to pay US$10 (GUY$2,000) for damage to the bus trunk.
March 6, 2009 – PinkNews
Human rights organisations call for end to ‘police abuse’ of trans people in Guyana
by Jessica Geen
Human rights organisations in Guyana have called for an end to the arrest and abuse of trans people for not conforming to gender-typical dress codes. In a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo, six groups said a repressive law that criminalises wearing clothes considered appropriate only for the opposite sex must be repealed. The letter was signed by the Caribbean Forum for Liberation of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS), Global Rights, Guyana Rainbow Foundation (Guybow), Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).
They called on the Guyanese authorities to drop the charges against seven people arrested under the law in February, 2009, and investigate allegations of abuse by the police. In February, police in the Guyanese capital, Georgetown, arrested and charged seven people under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02, which criminalises as a minor offence the “wearing of female attire by man; wearing of male attire by women.”
The detainees said that police refused to allow them to make a phone call or contact a lawyer, both basic rights under Guyanese law. They told human rights organisations that police officers photographed them and then told them to take off all of their “female clothes” in front of several police officers. One defendant said that after the detainees stripped, the police told them to bend down to “search” them, as a way to mock them for their sexual orientation. They were then ordered to put on “men’s clothing.”
“Police are using archaic laws to violate basic freedoms,” said Scott Long director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Programme at Human Rights Watch. “This is a campaign meant to drive people off the streets simply because they dress or act in ways that transgress gender norms.”
Vicky Sawyer, a transgender representative for CARIFLAGS, said: “It is outrageous in this day and age that human beings get arrested for cross-gender expression. Transgender issues should be dealt with using international human rights standards, not police abuse.”
Guyana has several laws that criminalise relationships between people of the same sex. Section 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act punishes committing acts of “gross indecency” with a man with a two-year prison sentence. Section 352 criminalises any “attempt to commit unnatural offences", including a ten-year prison sentence for any “male [that] indecently assaults any other male person.” Section 353 states “Everyone who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature, shall be guilty of felony and be liable to imprisonment for life.”
March 14, 2008 – news.yahoo.com
Guyana credits US campaign with slashing AIDS rate
Georgetown, Guyana – Guyana says a U.S.-funded AIDS prevention program has helped slash the HIV infection rate in the South American country from nearly 3 percent to about 1 percent. Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy says the program led by the U.S. Agency for International Development "is a huge success story."
The $20 million public awareness and prevention program was launched five years ago. Some of the grant aid went to non-governmental organizations that staged skits around the former British territory of 750,000 people to warn of the dangers of promiscuous behavior and the effects of the virus. Ramsammy said Saturday the government has tracked the decline of the virus by testing nearly half the population over the past three years.
May 17, 2009 – Kaieteur News
SASOD accuses state of sanctioning homophobia…as UNAIDS calls for end to laws against homosexuality
The United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has issued a call for governments around the world to decriminalise homosexuality. The call comes as International Day against homophobia” is being observed around the world. In Guyana, as is the case in most of the Commonwealth Caribbean, intimacy between men is not allowed. In a statement, Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, urged all governments to take steps to eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by men who have sex with men, lesbians and transgender populations.
He said that governments must also create social and legal environments that ensure respect for human rights and enable universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. “The failure to respond effectively has allowed HIV to reach crisis levels in many communities of men who have sex with men and transgender people,” Sidibé said. He said efforts to reverse this crisis must be evidence informed, grounded in human rights and underpinned by the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
In the 2006 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, governments committed to removing legal barriers and passing laws to protect vulnerable populations. However, more than 80 countries still have legislation that prohibits same sex behaviour. “Today, more than ever, we must work together to end homophobia and ensure the barriers that stop access to HIV services are removed,” Sidibé.
According to UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, 21 percent of men who have sex with men in Guyana are HIV-positive, as compared to 2.5 percent in the general population. Human rights activists and organisations such as the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) have argued that this out-law of intimate same gender relations, helps to fuel the HIV epidemic. In Guyana, violence and discrimination against transsexual, transgender and intersex (Trans) people came in for much attention a few months ago when a group of people verbally and physically attacked some ‘cross-dressers’ in the vicinity of Stabroek Market.
The escalated confrontation led to the ‘cross-dressers’ being detained and charged for an archaic statute related to ‘cross-dressing’ under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02. which makes an offence of ”being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in male attire….” Days later, SASOD said Police unleashed a series of crackdowns in downtown Georgetown against ‘cross-dressers,’ detaining them without reading them their rights, informing them of their charges or allowing them to make phone calls or contact a lawyer.
According to SASOD, while in detention, they were mocked and ridiculed for their sexual orientation. Further to the insults by the police, the acting Chief Magistrate also unloaded her own disparaging remarks in making her decision motivated by her own religious views. “These human rights violations clearly illustrate that the state is complicit and sanctions transphobic discrimination and violence,” SASOD stated. The Society said it has repeatedly appealed to the Guyana government even at the highest levels to repeal the country’s “colonial-inherited discriminatory laws, which our former colonisers have rid themselves of decades ago, and enact laws and policies to protect sexual and gender minorities from violence and discrimination. ”
Meanwhile, men who have sex with men (MSM) in Guyana are among groups classified as “sexual minorities” who will benefit from a special programme launched by the United Nations system to fight HIV/AIDS. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNAIDS announced that they are teaming up with local organisations working with MSM and against homophobia. The UN system is partnering with SASOD – the main organization committed to eradicating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – and GuyBow. The 2009-11 programme is aimed at universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for sexual minorities, with a special focus on men who have sex with men, health care service providers and the uniformed services.
This year’s observance on International Day Against Homophobia also marks the launch of an international appeal to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to remove transsexualism from the list of mental disorders. The Appeal also calls on all states of the world to adopt the Yogyakarta principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and ensure that all Trans people benefit from appropriate health care, including gender reassignment if they so wish; be allowed to adapt their civil status to their preferred gender; live their social, family or professional lives without being exposed to transphobic discrimination or violence and that they are protected by police and justice systems from physical and non-physical violence. The Appeal has been signed by over 300 organisations, including SASOD, in more than 75 countries across the globe.
May 27, 2009 – From: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination(SASOD) is pleased to invite you to Painting the Spectrum 5, its fifth festival of films .
The festival opens on Monday 1 June, 2009 with a documentary about Bayard Rustin. A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.
Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Five years in the making and the winner of numerous awards, BROTHER OUTSIDER presents a feature-length documentary portrait, focusing on Rustin’s activism for peace, racial equality, economic justice and human rights. In the year when the United States elected the first President with African origins, Brother Outsider is a timely tribute to all the persons who contributed to the realisation of part of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream.
The Film Festival continues Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during June 2009. This year’s festival includes five documentaries, four dramas, three comedies two short films and one musical featuring perspectives on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons with stories from Australia, India, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Spain, Italy, Canada and the USA. SASOD is also privileged to present films from two members of the Guyanese diaspora : Dr Michelle Mohabeer and Renata Mohamed. All film screenings will be followed by opportunities for discussions with the audience as part of the objective of the festival to promote honest dialogue on sexuality and gender identity in Guyana.
Highlights of this festival include the documentary Straightlaced which looks at the problems which gender identities pose for young people and the lengths to which people go to maintain male and female identities. This film festival has been made possible through collaborations and donations from several organisations including the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Third World Newsreel, California Newsreel, Maraia Films, Groundspark and through kind donations of individuals.
The Films are screened at Sidewalk Cafe in Middle Street,Georgetown, Guyana from 7pm each night. Admission is free. All films are intended for mature audiences. The full schedule and more information about this and previous festivals are available here
November 24, 2009 – Stabroek News
Stigma, discrimination still affecting HIV fight
by Iana Seales
Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) remains one of the more stigmatized groups in the country, which he said poses a problem in the fight against HIV. The sector is dealing with stigma and discrimination on a continual basis and the issues surrounding homosexual sex, the minister said in a recent interview, and though he is of the opinion that homosexual sex is not criminal, he believes decriminalizing it would be an imposition on society which is not ready “for such a step”.
Ramsammy said it is inevitable that someday Guyana will move to decriminalize homosexual sex, but he opined the country must be ready for such a step. Further, he expressed doubt that any of the countries in the Caribbean is ready. He said this must not be imposed on a country, noting that whether he sees it as a problem or not means very little. “Criminalizing it is wrong, but that doesn’t mean we should legalize it either,” he added.
He said that if the vast majority of the population feels a certain way then things should not be imposed on them, “I believe it is not a criminal act. I also believe that it would be a mistake for us to impose it on the nation,” he said. Ramsammy said also that people need to be persuaded, saying that Guyana is a very conservative country where such matters are concerned. He said a vast majority of the Guyanese public would oppose decriminalizing homosexual sex. Ramsammy expressed disappointment that people are still afraid to talk about it stating, “This is another mistake because it is something we should talk about”.
On the issue of patients being stigmatized at the hospital, Ramsammy stressed that the sector does not discriminate. He said HIV patients are not in a particular section of the public hospital, and insisted that the health sector has never really grouped patients together. He said that “people just assumed”. He continued that patients are not in a position where they are up for discussion at any hospital. “There is no way you can walk into the hospital and say that any particular person is infected with the disease,” he added. He said there is now an infectious disease wards for persons recovering from illnesses such as leptospirosis and dengue and also AIDS-related illnesses.
Prior to 2000, he said, many health care workers did not want to see patients with HIV and nobody wanted to work at the then Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic. This has changed, Ramsammy declared, adding that “health workers see it as a prestigious thing to work with HIV patients today”. He said there has been a shift in attitudes in the society, adding that the general public is less afraid to confront their own fears about it. However, he admitted that many people are still traumatized when it affects a family member.
“People don’t look as sick as they used to,” he said and opined that fear made families abandon HIV infected people in the past — around 60 percent were left on their own prior to 2000. Ramsammy said families are now keeping their relatives at home. “There are still high levels of stigma, not only for those living with it but people who are believed to be living with it,” he added and referred to Commercial Sex Workers and MSM as still being highly stigmatized.
Read Article HERE
February 22, 2010 – The New York Times
Transgender Men Seek End to Guyana Dress Code Laws
Georgetown (Reuters) – A group of transgender men in Guyana have asked the country’s Supreme Court to strike down laws that leave them open to arrest following a police crackdown on male cross-dressers. Police in the tiny South American country, where both homosexuality and transgender dress have been illegal for decades, detained and briefly held six transgender males in jail last February on charges of "cross-dressing."
"It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human," Seon Clarke, who was among those detained last year, said in a statement from Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) on Monday. Clarke is also one of those who on Friday filed a motion for the Supreme Court to overturn the sexual orientation and dress laws. SASOD, which is representing the group, said it had assembled an international team of lawyers for the case.
The recent crackdown brought criticism from international rights groups, and drew attention to similar laws that make homosexual activity and transgender dress a crime in many of the Caribbean region’s former British colonies. The Supreme Court has not said whether it will hear the case.
Guyanese law prohibits men from appearing in public in female attire, and vice versa. The law appears in a section of Guyana’s legal code that also makes homosexuality a crime. An effort to overturn the laws has been opposed by Guyana’s powerful Christian, Hindu and Muslim clergy and has gained little traction with the government.
(Reporting by Neil Marks in Georgetown. Writing by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Paul Simao)
February 22, 2010 – msmandhiv.org
Marking World Day of Social Justice, Transgender citizens, supported by SASOD, move to the courts to challenge Guyana’s law against ‘cross-dressing’
Long misunderstood and seen as legitimate targets for discrimination and abuse, transgender citizens used the occasion of the international commemoration of World Day of Social Justice to file a motion against Guyana’s law criminalizing ‘cross-dressing.’ On Friday, February 19, 2010, the notice of motion was filed before the Supreme Court of Judicature for redress claiming, among other relief, to have section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, Chapter 8:02, invalidated as irrational, discriminatory, undemocratic, contrary to the rule of law and unconstitutional. The law makes an offence of “being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in male attire.”
February 20, 2010, marks the second annual commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, which recognizes, in the words of United Nations General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/62/10), that “social development and social justice cannot be attained… in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” In his to mark the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon explained that “social justice is based on the values of fairness, equality, respect for diversity, access to social protection, and the application of human rights in all spheres of life.”
The day was chosen to address an act of social injustice against one of Guyana’s most marginalised social groups which took place last year. Transgender persons refer to people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, including cross-dressers, female or male impersonators, pre-operative, post-operative or non-operative transsexuals. Trans people may define themselves as female-to-male (FtM, assigned a female biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly male gender identity) or male-to-female (MtF, assigned a male biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly female gender identity); others consider themselves as falling outside binary concepts of gender or sex.
In a series of crackdowns last year between February 6 and 7, the Guyana police arrested a number of male-to-female transgender persons (MtF Trans) and charged them for ‘cross-dressing’ under the archaic Colonial section 153(1)(xlvii) statute. Unrepresented and completely unaware of their rights, the defendants were detained in police custody over the week-end and then hustled through the legal system. When they appeared before Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson on February 9, 2009, they were further ridiculed and told that they are men not women, before being fined by the learned Chief Magistrate. Seon Clarke, also known as Falatama, one of the persons arrested, said: “It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human.” The motion also pleads that the Chief Magistrate was improperly influenced by irrelevant considerations, discriminated against the MtF Trans on the basis of religion, and violated a fundamental norm of Guyana as a secular state. Vigorous and wide-ranging calls within and out of Guyana for the repeal of these discriminatory laws which facilitate such injustices have been ignored by the government.
March 1, 2010 – Stabroek News
This case is about, and for, all of us
by Alissa Trotz – editor of the In the Diaspora Column
On February 19th a motion was filed in Guyana’s high court to challenge a law that criminalized cross-dressing, and under which seven persons were arrested in 2009 and charged with wearing female attire. Four – Quincy McEwan, Seon Clarke, Joseph Fraser and Seyon Persaud – have brought the constitutional challenge, with the support of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and a group of lawyers, including from the recently established University of the West Indies Rights Advocate Project (U-RAP). Sunday’s Trinidad Express cites local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocates who say this case will have far-reaching effects region-wide. It brings to mind what nearly came to pass in St. Vincent last year, where attempts at constitutional reform would have enshrined individual freedoms and social justice for all, while at the same time outlawing gay marriage.
Let me begin by saying that I categorically believe that love and desire can never be legislated. Whether I love women or men is for no-one to decide but me. And it is important for my children to learn this as they grow up into loving, sensual, caring adults. I am also a parent whose children always say they see no difference between what men wear and most of their mother’s wardrobe. So what constitutes men’s clothes and women’s clothes? If I purchase a shirt from the men’s section of a store and wear it in public, am I in violation of the law? It seems to me that one way in which women might show their support for this motion is to turn up at court in ‘men’s’ clothes when the case is called and present themselves to the police for arrest.
As I read the newspapers I thought that as usual, it’s not a big one who is being arrested here. Why is it the law seems to end up being applied more drastically to those with less resources? This sense was only reinforced when I went to look up the Act itself.
The law under which the seven men were charged (Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02, Section 153(1)(xlvii)) comes from a section relating to various minor offences, chiefly in towns. These include: beating a mat in a public way or public place in any town between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.; playing at any game or flying a kite in any public way (in the case of kite-flying there are exceptions for portions of the beach in Georgetown and Berbice); leading cattle in a public way; rollerskating on the road. It is not that they are invoked uniformly and without prejudice – if that were the case more than half the country’s population, including our law enforcement officials, would be before the courts – but that these minor offences can be and are selectively applied. So if those charged with upholding the law can pick and choose, we need to ask ourselves how the selective application reveals particular biases in a society at any one time. The homophobia that prompted these charges is clear, but it would be a mistake to see homophobia as existing on its own, a point SASOD made eloquently a year ago when it noted that “when on occasion the laws are arbitrarily invoked they disproportionately affect the poor and the powerless” (Stabroek News, February 15, 2009). When the seven persons were first arrested last year, one newspaper reported that they stated they were on their way to the National Cultural Centre to see the play ‘Nothing to Laugh About’, which apparently made fun of cross-dressing. Yet no-one from the production was arrested, even though they were on a public stage in a theatrical production designed to gain maximum audiences and attention.
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March 5, 2010 – Alter Net
Letter to Editor – answer the detractors, bringing discussion closer to home
On Feb 26, 2010, Kaieteur News, a local daily in Guyana, published an article I had written as a letter to the editor in response to the cross-dressing suit brought by five young men and the organization SASOD in the High Court. Following publication of that letter, there were response letters to the editor in the same papers and in Stabroek News, another local daily. Below is my response to those comments:
I first met Mark, a young man in his late teens and early twenties, when he came to join the Catholic-sponsored Scout troupe at Sacred Heart Church. At the time he wasn’t a Catholic and since it was a requirement for membership, he did what was necessary to become a member, including converting and receiving the initial sacraments; I was his godfather and sponsor. As a leader of the troupe, I sensed that Mark desperately wanted to belong, and when he was able to join, he fit right in and was happiest when the troupe went on camps, because there, being in charge of the food and kitchen, he was in his element, ensuring that more than 50 teenage boys had three meals on time every day for the duration of the camps. When we weren’t at camp and had regular meetings, Mark was fastidious with the gear: the ropes and staves, ensuring that everything was well taken care of and properly stored. To my knowledge, while Mark was in the KBS, he never displayed or perpetuated any inappropriate behavior to and with any of the boys. He wasn’t effeminate or flamboyant and did the boys care that Mark may or may not be gay? I don’t believe that concerned them. But a few years later when I was in my novitiate in a religious organization, he came to see me. He was troubled; the pain of suffering and abuse was evident in his eyes. His face was gaunt, he was thin, his clothes hung on him, and looked tired, he had lost weight and was homeless. He told me how his stepfather beat him and put him out the house he shared with his mother and other siblings because the stepfather suspected that he was gay. He looked at me and as the tears streamed down his face, told me of some of the abuses he had endured and I realized then, even though there was no definitive confirmation, that he was gay. Toward the end of our conversation, knowing the society’s reaction to anyone who they think is an “anti-man”, and by association anyone seen with someone they perceive as such, I told Mark that I was proud of him and I would not be ashamed to walk with him on the street. After our conversation, we walked north on Camp Street, oblivious to the stares. I knew he felt proud, supported and accepted.
Sometime in August 1995, as was related to me, Mark died. I was told that in the circumstances surrounding his death he had attended a party on the West Bank of Demerara and while on his way home, after the party, he was set upon by a group of young men and beaten, all the while accused of being an “anti-man,” ostensibly because of how he was dressed. According to the report, with a broken arm, sustained in the attack, he dragged himself to a nearby police station for assistance and instead of receiving help, he was placed in a cell beaten again, suffered a concussion, and when he lapsed into unconsciousness, he was transported to the Public Hospital Georgetown, where he later died – alone, abused, battered and probably wondering why he deserved this treatment. Who should be held responsible for his death: the misguided who are blinded by their beliefs to forget that the person they are attacking is another human being, someone who could be their brother, son, cousin, nephew, uncle, or close friend; by extension, the religious organizations that demonize homosexuality and advocate curing by any means, but who are just as guilty of the same offenses they ascribe to gays and lesbians; or the stepfather who put him out of the house?
I recall this story because of the vitriol, hatred, and bigotry spewing from the many commentators incited by the equally misguided and brainwashed Roger Williams and Abu Bakr, both of whom leveled criticism against my letter published in the Kaieteur News on Feb 26, 2010. In his response, Bakr correctly stated in the beginning of his critique that I was attempting to encourage a change when I wrote about the far reaching consequences of the cross-dressing suit before the High Court as a break with the mental slavery in which many Guyanese are still living, victims of a colonial power that is physically absent, but yet present in the laws. I ask those who continue with their hatemongering, using religion, convenient morality and pseudo-scientific examples to justify their misogyny how would you feel if your son, brother, daughter, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, cousin, or close friend was treated as Mark. Some would say, “pray for him,” others “beat it out of him,” but, in this world of religious indoctrination, where is the acceptance and compassion that are tenets of Christian teachings?
Why couldn’t Mark be allowed to live, as he was, a same-gender loving man? Is our society so hypocritical that we would rather kill than show compassion? Mark was rejected by at least three important pillars of his society: his family, those sworn to protect and defend the laws, and by community. I could again be accused of romanticizing this issue before the court, but Mark’s suffering in life and his death are real. By extension what the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking, is it not to claim the guarantee and the rights provided by the Constitution, the acceptance it assures? Is denying someone the right to live as he feels, free from fear of abuse and of discrimination, depriving him of his human right?
No one is advocating turning the society lawless, no one is promoting incestuous practices, bestiality or any perverted behavior to which being gay was associated. Bakr and Williams have conveniently chosen to cherry pick, ignore, and deny historical facts, that homosexuality was practiced and accepted as a part of the way of life in superior African civilizations and cultures long before the colonialists arrived. In a conference paper, “Homosexuality in Africa: Myth or Reality? An Ethnographic Exploration in Togo, West Africa” presented by Virgile Capo-Chichi and Sethson Kassegné at the 5th African Population Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, December 2007, quoted in the introduction: “Same-sex relations are denied in most African countries even though studies have found cultural and traditional practices that demonstrate their existence for centuries (Roscoe & Murray, 1998)” and “Compared to other regions, Africa has the lowest levels of awareness and communication with regards to male-to-male sex (McKenna, 1996) and the most repressive laws against it.” The report continues, “Other gatekeepers believe that same sex relations and homosexuality have always existed in traditional societies in Togo “…tendencies towards homosexual behavior have always existed among men as well as women. It is more pronounced among men and that’s why they were called ‘nyonu – sunu’ (man – woman); that is, a man living as a woman. Or, alternatively, ‘sunu nyonu’ (woman-man) because they tend to behave like a person of the opposite sex.”(Gatekeeper, Aneho)”.”
We can all choose the material we want to justify or support an argument, but there has to be a meeting point, of agreement, that in human nature, homosexuality is as natural as being male or female. Dr. Tiger H. Devore, a New York-based psychologist, in a recent interview said that Western civilizations created the binary delineation, male and female. In reality, he said, there are three genders, male, intersex, and female. In India where on Nov 12, 2009 the Indian election authorities granted independent identity status to those who are intersex or transsexual, allowing them to be counted in the census and to vote – both democratic rights. It is reported that in remote villages in the Dominican Republic and other countries, there are the “guevedoces,” (literal translation: penis at 12) people identified as female at birth and transformed into male at puberty; all accepted as part of their respective societies and cultures. According to the Oct 2006 The Medical News report, 1,500 species in the animal kingdom practice homosexuality. Petter Boeckman, academic advisor for the “Against Nature’s Order?” exhibition at the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo, said, “One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species.”
Despite the airs and pretensions with which we have clothed ourselves, and the exploitative and oppressive effects of religion, we should not forget that in the wider scheme of nature, we are still part of the animal kingdom. Many of the detractors have ignored the qualitative contributions gay men and lesbians make to society: they don’t walk around wearing a sign on their foreheads announcing their sexual orientation, instead they go about their tasks or jobs without fanfare. Looking beyond the colonial mindset, one wonders at the preference of perpetuating the “rod of correction” and beat that which is natural out of the child or continue to have a society where there are men and women living unhappy, trapped lives, resorting to violence against their spouses, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual promiscuity, which of course means that many of the men would be down-low, and a consequence the rise in HIV infections. Or, would the preference be to perpetuate the hypocrisy of those men and women who sneak around for trysts and assignations, but profess heterosexism and homophobia, and deride anyone who is gay with their friends? While many people like to pretend that there is no one gay or lesbian in their family, “not in my family”, it is a fact, homosexuality is a part of human nature. What would these commentators do if their son or daughter were to declare they were in love with someone of the same gender?
March 15, 2010 – Stabroek News
Toward a Different Understanding
by Stabroek staff – Alissa Trotz is editor of the weekly In the Diaspora Column
There has been a spate of letters to the press in recent weeks on the question of sexuality in Guyana, following the report that a group of lawyers will be bringing a constitutional challenge to a law that criminalized cross-dressing and under which seven persons were arrested and charged last year.
This is an issue with immense ramifications for how we understand matters of discrimination and equality in our own times. Some have marshaled ‘scientific’ evidence to make the case that homosexuality represents some kind of identity disorder (this vexed question of science will be addressed in a later column), others advise us that they are sending their authoritative opinions on the matter to Bar Associations and Attorneys-General in Guyana and across the Caribbean. Yet others cite religion as the final word that demonstrates irrefutably just how un-natural homosexuality is (this is one of the issues that is being taken up in the court case, in which Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson told the four men charged, that they must go to church and give over their lives to Christ). In fact this is one topic that makes for interesting bedfellows indeed!
Back in 2001, several religious groupings brought tremendous pressure to bear on President Bharrat Jagdeo to withhold presidential assent from an Amendment Bill that was overwhelmingly approved (55-0) by the National Assembly, and that would have outlawed discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Bill was based on recommendations from the Constitution Reform Commission, a body that in fact included representatives from the Christian, Hindu and Islamic communities, all of whom at the time assented to the anti-discrimination recommendation. In a letter written to the Stabroek News on January 26, 2001, Father Malcolm Rodrigues wrote that “Surely God did not make any exceptions in his creation of the human species, which would allow us scope for discrimination! We must remember that apartheid was founded on precisely this sort of discrimination, except that the base was colour of skin rather than sexual orientation.”
On Saturday last, one Stabroek News letter writer (approvingly) noted that homosexuality remains illegal in 29 countries, this in a continent where several Presidents have recently and publicly condemned homosexuality as a foreign import. In Uganda, there are currently attempts to raise the penalty on anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts to life imprisonment, with jail terms as well for those who know but do not ‘report’ homosexual activity. We are expected to see these official pronouncements and acts – which will lead to terror and marginalization for people among us, including family members and friends – as evidence of a robust anti (or post) colonial stance, an instance in which we demonstrate how freed from colonialism we are, how mentally emancipated and independent we have become. In this way of thinking, it is those who oppose homophobia, whether legislated or unofficial, who are accused of being neocolonial. We set aside the inconvenient fact that much of this legislation, which we now seek to extend or refuse to comprehensively dismantle, was put into place under colonial rule. We do not then have to engage in the difficult work of figuring out how and why it is we have so thoroughly internalized colonialism’s divide and rule tactics, and who it ultimately benefits. We do not have to think about how this makes it so much easier to control us, when we learn to police ourselves and each other. We do not have to ask ourselves why we feel we can selectively choose which aspects of mental slavery we need to emancipate ourselves from.
June 29, 2010 – Stafroek News
Religious groups denounce gay, lesbian film festival – say organisers promoting homosexuality
by Stabroek staff
The Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) yesterday accused the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discri-mination (SASOD) of attempting to corrupt young minds in society by using its gay and lesbian film festival to promote homosexuality.
IRO spokesman Bishop Juan Edghill, at a press conference at the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) headquarters, said SASOD’s Paint-ing the Spectrum, now in its sixth year, is wrong and religious leaders have to speak out since they represent the “conscience of the nation”. According to Edghill, who made it clear that he was speaking as a religious leader and not as the head of the ERC, a lot of young people from various organisations are seeking guidance and are asking questions about the festival. He said the festival was previously overlooked by the religious leaders, who have been busy with other things. “While we are not stopping people from having their views and practising whatever they want, when you are going to come out publicly with a lesbian and gay film festival as if this is a law and the Constitution of Guyana allows this, then the religious community have to put their hands up [hand in the air] and say, ‘Excuse me, we are still here, this is not allowed here in Guyana and we strongly condemn it in the strongest possible language you can find,’” Edghill said. “It took a while but it did get around to us and what we are hearing is of great concern to us,” he added, pointing out that the festival is being held at the Sidewalk Café, which is not an enclosed place and is also opposite a school. He questioned what arrangements are in place to prevent “young, impressionable minds that are all around us being influenced by what we call this public promotion of the homosexual agenda in Guyana.” Christ Church Secondary School is near the café; however, the films are shown during the evening.
Edghill said while he believes that gays and lesbians have a right “to education, to health care… they must be able to have access to housing and the right to rent an apartment… they must have the benefits like every other citizens” it must be done in conjunction with the fact that there are other people in Guyana who have different beliefs. According to him, all the religious books speak against homosexuality. He said any group that may want to put this issue in its manifesto next election would be committing political suicide “because the majority of Guyanese have pronounced on this matter.” Edgill noted that religious leaders are always committed to gays and lesbian living freely in society and have welcomed them in their places of worship but they cannot allow public education on the issue influencing young, impressionable minds.
He said the fact that gays and lesbian are internationally accepted and are allowed certain rights, even marriage, does not mean that Guyana has to “subscribe to the western culture. We cannot allow the western world to come and foist their lifestyles and thinking on to us. This will simply mean that we are just allowing a new form of colonialism. Sovereignty means every country has the right to decide its own future and its own destiny. The Guyanese family must sit down and decide what we want for Guyana. And may I say, the Guyanese family includes largely the religious community, so they cannot be accepted at one time and left out at some other times.” He added that while buggery is still a crime in Guyana, there is an “outfit that is educating young Guyanese about homosexual activities and that it is okay, which is something against the law.” Edghill said too that while all religions love human beings, their teachings are very clear that homosexuality is an evil act and persons who practice it need compassion, love and care and help from society. “We are a country that is guided by morality and there are a few who would like us to start changing the way we think and the way we operate. This is not something that can be wished away and coming out of our discussions today… the religious leaders have made it very clear that this not a matter that we will allow to go unnoticed and that we would be engaging at different levels to continue to educate and work with the general society…,” he said.
Meanwhile, Co-Chair of the IRO Reverend Ronald McGarell said religious leaders have decided that society needs to be protected from homosexual behaviour. “…[It] would only bring damnation upon our nation, spiritually,” he said, adding that it goes against natural law. “God has created man and woman for each other and it is for the procreation of life and the continuation of the creation and joy and happiness. If we go against this natural plan of creation, then we would just be coming extinct,” he said. He said religious leaders cannot condone such behaviour and he pointed out the festival is being held in a area where thousands of children and young people are passing every evening and they have to be careful what is projected to them. “We are calling on all the religious communities to come out and express your beliefs, your support at this time so that this kind of activity, this kind of festival of films that they have been exposing our young minds to, a kind of lifestyle that is not conducive to our society, we need to come out against this,” he added.
Edghill said the lobby of SASOD has changed over the years from lobbying for the laws to be changed. “This promotion is behaving as if it is law, it is no longer asking the Parliament to consider making it a fundamental right, they are behaving as if it is law…,” he said, adding, “We want to bring it [to the attention of] all that should be concerned, law enforcement, state officials, the religious communities and other civil society actors and interested persons, including our parents and our decent God fearing elders in our communities, that something is happening in our society which is a total violation of what we consider to be Guyana’s value as a family and it is operating unhindered, unchecked and we are saying we are putting our hands up… and saying this is not going to continue.,” he said.
Edghill pointed out that homosexuals have always been accepted in our society as they are not beaten on sight and preachers don’t “talk about stoning homosexuals and throwing them into lakes of fire.” Further, he emphasised that the society has always shown tolerance. “But what we have now is an in-your-face approach, and that is what we are talking about now, the western culture,” he said.
Questioned about where the “conscience of the nation” has been on torture, police brutality and other issues, Edghill accused the media of selectively carrying the IRO’s releases. He also said that organisation believes in the respecting the rights of all people. Additionally, on the issue of morality, he said whether it is an adult using influence and money to take a young boy or girl to abuse them sexually, the IRO has spoken out against that. He said they have also spoken out against the police or politicians who use their position of influence to subvert, influence or cause a disadvantage to anyone. “What the religious community don’t do and we will never, is run around the country outing fires, we keep stating the principles and those principles are what are upheld by the consensus at the IRO level,” he said.
December 13, 2010 – del Prado, Ruben
‘Conversation on Males and Gender Violence in Guyana and the concept of ‘Gender Justice’
In anticipation of the full Report of the one-day seminar on 7th December and ½ day workshop on 8th December 2010: “Community Conversation on Males and Gender Violence in Guyana,” led by the Government of Guyana Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Justice:
1.A national movement will be supported towards the wellness, wellbeing, health and development of males
2.For a period of 11 months (up to 24 November 2011) , five strategies will be applied to address males and gender violence in Guyana:
a.The National Roll-Out of these Strategies. Activities, under this strategy, would include: Community Mapping of available services and referral systems; Stakeholder Conversations (The UN Joint Team; USG PEPFAR, and other key development and technical partners); Regional Conversations (Linden, Berbice, Essequibo and a Hinterland Region); Local Conversations (proposed 46, by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Welfare; Constituency- specific Conversations);
b.The forging of Partnerships with sectors and organisations, towards integration of gender violence prevention and support in their work (Key are: The Education Sector; the Health Sector; the ‘Guyana Business Coalition on AIDS;’ the ‘Guyana Faith-and-HIV Coalition;’ organisations that work with mobile and migrant populations, such as the IOM, the Guyana Red Cross Society, Guyana Youth Challenge, Guyana Geology and Mines;, the Uniformed Services, and the Judiciary);
c.‘Inoculation:’ Resistance building for boys and men. against gender violence;
d.‘Communicators’ Strategy with the media; the entertainment industry, such as DJ’s, music producers and lyricists;
e.Communities’ Gender Violence Competency Self-assessments, national, regional and as part of the ‘constituency conversations’.
Moreover, the concept of ‘Gender Justice’ will be defined for Guyana, to express the goal of wellness and well-being for both genders.
A preliminary definition is proposed to be: “In the recognition that there are real differences between the sexes, “Gender Justice” is achieved in Guyana when boys and girls, men and women have clearly identified, uncontested, respected and protected rights and opportunities to realise their full potential.”
Efforts towards ‘Gender Justice’ do not deflect, delay or replace the trajectory to achieve “Gender Equality.” On the contrary, achieving and sustaining ‘Gender Justice’ are key milestones on the path to the achievement of Gender Equality
•Gender Equality “refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys.
•Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.
•Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration – recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men.
•Gender equality is not a “women’s issue” but should concern and fully engage men as well as women.
•Equality between women and men are seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development
Gender equality is based on the idea that no individual should be less equal in opportunity, access to resources and benefits or in human rights than others. It is based on the notion that "all people are created equal therefore should have equal share of the worlds resources and benefits". In this case, therefore, women and men have an equal right to access and control over resources and benefits, participation in politics and decision making, gainful employment, and so forth. Gender equity, though often used interchangeably with gender equality, is a very distinct concept. Equity programmes favour treating women and men differently in order to achieve the equal status of women and men. Such programmes are based on the premise that if women and men were treated the same way (equally) there would be a risk of reaching unfair outcomes due to original disparities.
This national movement in Guyana, towards the wellness and development of males themselves, and for the sake of male wellbeing per sé, is imperative.
“Men have balls” and this must be recognized, respected and acted on!