Following a commitment made by the Granger Administration, marginalised groups in Guyana are anticipating a referendum on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights.
Responding to a petition submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the matter of human rights violations against young persons in Guyana, the coalition Administration pledged to work to address issues of discrimination against marginalised groups.
In its documented response, seen by this newspaper, the Government said the issue of repealing of laws that criminalise homosexuality was brought to the attention of the legislative arm of Government on several occasions and it was deemed unfit for the legislature to decide on the matter.
As such, the Government said it was recommended that the matter be taken to a vote, where the people of Guyana will decide by a referendum these matters.
“His Excellency, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Brigadier Ret’d David Granger has contended and signalled his support for the reformation of the laws with respect to the LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex] community. With this Executive support, efforts will be made to advance the cause and strengthen the implementation, enforcement and the system of the protection of every Guyanese citizen, including the LGBTI community,” the document outlined.
In relation to the issue of access to employment, Government maintained that no person should be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation since everyone has a right to work, pension and gratuity.
“Article 149A of the Constitution promotes equal employment opportunity to all by advocating the right to work. Article 149A states that “No person shall be hindered in the employment of his or her right, that is to say, the right to free choice of employment”,” the Administration cited in its response.
The Government said it has one position on the cross-cutting principles of discrimination towards members of the LGBTI community, whereas, its policymakers believe the principle of universality admits no exception.
“Human rights truly are the birth rights of all human beings. As such, we are committed to implementing the rule of law,” Government emphasised in the report.
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Administration reminded that such commitments were also made in its elections manifesto.
“As indicated in the manifesto, we are committed to putting in place measures which will ensure that all vulnerable groups in our society, including women, children, persons with disabilities, rural and Indigenous women, youth, the elderly and the sick and pregnant and those marginalised because of sexual orientation, are protected and are not discriminated against,” Government stated.
A delegation from the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) attended a thematic hearing of the IACHR in March in Washington, DC, to present on the human rights situation affecting young persons in Guyana.
The GEF delegation presented on rights abuses against young persons in Guyana, primarily on the lack of implementation of policies and laws that would develop youth in Guyana, protect young people’s rights and citizen security in the State, with emphasis on the deficiencies of Guyana’s new National Youth Policy in addressing these rights abuses against young people. Government’s report was in response to the presentation made by the GEF delegation.