Guyana marchers oppose repeal of anti-LGBT laws

Anti-homosexuality march in Linden, Guyana. (Photo courtesy of Guyana Times)
Anti-homosexuality march in Linden, Guyana. (Photo courtesy of Guyana Times)

Guyana’s apparent progress toward repealing its anti-LGBT law ran into opposition last weekend, as hundreds of anti-homosexuality protesters marched through the streets of Linden, the country’s second-largest town.

Guyana's location in South America
Guyana’s location in South America

Guyana is the only country in South America with anti-LGBT laws. It has an unenforced law that calls for life imprisonment for homosexual acts and another that bans cross-dressing.

The local LGBT advocacy group, SASOD (the Society Against Gender Orientation Discrimination), has been campaigning against those laws and has been seeking new legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Guyanese officials have voiced their support, but have not yet acted on their words.

President David Granger, for example, said, “I am prepared to respect the rights of any adult to indulge in any practice which is not harmful to others.” He also suggested, then dropped, the possibility of a referendum on the anti-homosexuality law.

Volda Lawrence, Guyana's Minister of Social Protection (Photo courtesy of KaieteurNewsOnline.com)
Volda Lawrence, Guyana’s Minister of Social Protection (Photo courtesy of KaieteurNewsOnline.com)

Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence spoke out against anti-LGBT stigma, saying, “we can’t afford to remain caught in the traps of traditional mind-sets, shunning and deeming LGBT persons as outcasts in our society. We have to wake up to the realization that these are human beings whose human, political and social rights are being violated.”

None of that went over well with followers of the “Come As You Are Ministries,” who marched through Linden on Saturday with signs stating,

  • “Buggery is not a human right; it is an abomination”;
  • “SASOD promotes what is illegal”;
  • “SASOD insulted the community, the poor and uneducated”; and
  • “I am a defender of children.”

The Guyana Chronicle reported:

Lindeners take to the streets in march against homosexuality

The Linden-based ‘Come As You Are Ministries’ on Saturday hosted a march against the legalising of homosexuality, which saw the participation of hundreds of followers of the religious sect.

Joined by Lindeners, marchers used the opportunity to take a stand and make known how they felt about what they see is an attempt to introduce an alternative lifestyle into their community.

Apostel Nigel London speaks against homosexuality. (Photo courtesy of the Stabroek News)
Apostle Nigel London speaks against homosexuality. (Photo courtesy of the Stabroek News)

The march, which was led by Apostles Nigel London and Cleveland Thomas, commenced at the Egbert Benjamin Conference Centre around 09:00hrs and ended at the Linden-Georgetown bus park, where the two religious leaders further pronounced on the matter. …

As they marched, they could be heard far and wide loudly chanting: “We stand for what is right!” “We defend our children!” and “Sodomy is illegal!”

The march, called “The Movement,” was not just an expression of the religious body’s stand against homosexuality, but also against strides taken by the Society Against Gender Orientation (SASOD) to have the lifestyle legalised and become a norm in the Linden community.

SASOD is calling for the amendment of the Prevention of Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds of discrimination. Their objective, it is said, is to protect persons who identify as gay and lesbian, while gender equality will protect transgender persons.

Weeks leading up to Saturday’s march, Apostle London, during his weekly televised programme would openly bash SASOD and its Managing Director Joel Simpson for what the organisation advocates. …

Asked to comment, Simpson said … that the criminalisation of same-sex intimacy is a violation of homosexuals’ human rights to privacy, protection from discrimination and free expression.

Joel Simpson, managing director of SASOD (Photo courtesy of the Guyana News Network)
Joel Simpson, managing director of SASOD (Photo courtesy of the Guyana News Network)

“Public policy and law-making cannot be determined on the basis of religious beliefs. Religious doctrines are irrelevant when it comes to matters of the state,” he posited. …

SASOD launched an arm in Linden in 2016 and since then Simpson said that the organisation has been working to empower the LGBT community and to make sure they have the best attainable mental, sexual and physical health.

“Due to the intense homophobia promoted by the likes of London, Linden is a very difficult environment for LGBT to live and feel safe,” he added.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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