Guyana, the only country in South America with a law against homosexual activity, has taken a step that could lead to repeal of that law.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds asked parliament to name a special committee to consider repeal of the laws against sodomy and cross-dressing, along with possible abolition of corporal punishment in the schools and the death penalty, Kaieteur News reports.
He also asked parliament to study a proposed prohibition on discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons.
He said a special select committee of parliament should seek comments from the public about each of those issues. Public discussions of those issues have been under way in Guyana for several months.
Hinds noted that, after discussions with the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010 and September 2010, Guyana had committed to review those issues, which “may be considered controversial in Guyanese society.”
The motion from Hinds is labeled “Guyana’s follow-up to commitments made to the United Nations Human Rights Council with regard to holding consultations on matters (the abolition of corporal punishment in the schools, the abolition of the death penalty and the decriminalization of consensual adult same sex relations and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgender persons).”
A recent study of Guyana by the University of the West Indies found examples of discrimination in the workplace and limited access to health care for LGBT people.
Guyana’s overall HIV infection rate is estimated at 1.2 percent, but about 19.4 percent of Guyanan men who have sex with men are infected, according to the United National AIDS Report of 2010.
Current laws prohibit cross-dressing; “acts of gross indecency with male person,” which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison; attempted “unnatural offenses,” up to 10 years in prison; and buggery, up to a life sentence.
The study said some of these laws are not often enforced, but still have serious consequences.
“There are many ways in which judgments are made, and punishments are meted out long before there are trials,” reported the Guyana Times website.
For more information, see the Kaieteur News article “Parliament to start review of homosexual, death penalty laws this week.”
- Parliament to start review of homosexual, death penalty laws this week (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- Guyana bows to UN pressure, moves to abolish Death Penalty (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- Way forward on key rights issues for Parliament today (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- Guyana updating a raft of legislation promoting equal rights (caribbean360.com)
- Guyana Legislators to Debate Controversial Bill (abcnews.go.com)