Tuesday, July 26, 2016

GEF’s Dr. Dawn Stewart elected as Civil Society Representative to Guyana’s Global Fund CCM

On Friday last, Guyanese civil society representatives elected Dr. Dawn Stewart, who was the unopposed nominee of the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), as the civil society representative to Guyana’s Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), replacing Ms. Renuka Anandjit, Programmes Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) who resigned after serving for five months.

The Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) was established as an oversight apparatus for the effective implementation of grants provided to Guyana by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  The mandate of the CCM is to coordinate the preparation and approve proposals for submission to the Global Fund and to monitor the implementation of all approved grants. The CCM focuses on performance by linking Global Fund resources to the achievement of clear, measurable and sustainable results based upon agreed monitoring indicators.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cross-Dressing Appeal Put Down until October

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Guyana Trans United (GTU) and the University of the West Indies Faculties of Law Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) welcome the setting down of the McEwan and Others appeal, related to the cross-dressing law in Guyana, for a full hearing on October 17, 2016.The appeal was fixed for hearing on Wednesday July 13 at 9 am before Guyana’s Court of Appeal. Gulliver McEwan, the first-named appellant, and representatives of SASOD and GTU were present in a completely full courtroom. 

The appellants filed their skeleton arguments in accordance with the rules of the Court. The arguments of the State are yet to be filed. The Court of Appeal noted that the arguments filed by counsel for the appellants were extensive and that it wished some time to fully review them and to receive the arguments from the State.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cross-Dressing Suit Set for Appeal Hearing on July 13

Guyana’s Court of Appeal is expected to hear the case McEwan, Clarke, Fraser, Persaud and SASOD versus Attorney General of Guyana on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM at the Court of Appeal, 60 High Street, Kingston.  The Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Hon. Justice Carl Singh, is expected to preside over the hearing with a panel of appellate judges.
The case was filed in February 2010, following the widely reported arrests and convictions of seven transgender persons for the 1893 summary offence of ‘being a man’ and wearing ‘female’ attire in a public way or public place, for an improper purpose. Four of the convicted persons filed this action, along with SASOD who approached the Faculty of Law UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) for advice in relation to the arrests. U-RAP proposed a constitutional challenge to the cross-dressing law, working with counsel Gino Persaud, who had already been counsel retained in the criminal matter.The entire legal team includes Mr. Miles Fitzpatrick SC, Mr. Nigel Hughes, Dr. Arif Bulkan, U-RAP Coordinator and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, UWI, St Augustine, and Mr. Gino Persaud.
After the case was filed, the organisation Guyana Trans United (GTU) was established to ensure respect for the dignity of transgender persons in Guyana and the protection of their human rights. The first named applicant/appellant Quincy (Gulliver) McEwan is a founder and the Executive Director of GTU. That organisation and its members are closely following this case.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Short Film Challenge for Queer and Trans People of Colour

PROJECT: Short Film Challenge for Queer and Trans People of Colour - a collaboration with CaribbeanTales

TIME FRAME: June - September 2016

An international film contest for short films produced by and with Queer and/or Trans People Of Color who are from the Caribbean or the Caribbean Diaspora. Globally the media represents Queer and Trans voices as overwhelmingly white, and tends to paint the picture that Queer and Trans people from other communities are always marginalised within their communities, perpetuating an idea of white supremacy. This is not the full story. Queer and Trans People of Color live lives as full as anyone else, this platform was created to share our authentic stories, for, by and about QTPOC.Jamaica (for example) is said to be one of the most homophobic places on earth. Those of us who live in the Caribbean know that this isn’t the full story. And those of us who live in the diaspora know that there are stories of migration and the struggles of life abroad that are also not told. QTPOC are underrepresented across media, and are also often not in positions of access to film/media training and equipment access. In Toronto we have sourced equipment for people to use in the creation of short films, and are also encouraging the use of media devices that more and more of us now have access to: high quality smart phones.

Monday, June 20, 2016

SASOD and Peace Corps Guyana Launch LGBT Sexual Health Training Programme in Region Three

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) with support from Peace Corps Guyana hosted a “Lunch & Launch” Event on June 18 to open their Region Three Sexual Health Training Programme, at the Aracari Resort in Versailles, West Bank Demerara.

The event was chaired by SASOD’s Advocacy and Communications Officer, Schemel Patrick who highlighted that the Region Three targeted outreach and training programme is intended to empower and build capacity of LGBT persons in the West Demerara community, while promoting positive mental and sexual health practices; basic human rights relating to non-discrimination and accessing health services, reducing internal stigma among LGBT persons in the Region and identifying a support network of LGBT persons and allies to establish a sustainable and ongoing linkage of local support after the project has ended.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Remarks by Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Social Protection

              Remarks by Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Social Protection
             On Shooting in Orlando on Sunday12th June, 2016

I would first like to express my condolences and words of comfort to the bereaved families and survivors who have been impacted by this heinous crime. It is impossible to fathom the depth of their grief and trauma at what has been perpetrated, but at the same time, we have witnessed the outpouring of love and support in the aftermath and so I would like, on behalf of the Ministry and my own behalf to lend my heartfelt support.

It is difficult to imagine in this era of freedom of expression and tolerance for sexual preferences that such biases continue to exist to the extent where a lone-wolf, armed with military firepower can snuff out the lives and maim so many in the twinkling of an eye. This assault on human life has touched atvarious strata of the society robbing the world at large of the potential expertise that this target group embodied. It is my hope that the families and survivors can be comforted in the knowledge that no effort is being spared to get to the root of this outrageous crime and to return some measure of normalcy to their lives.

Remarks by US Ambassador Perry Holloway at Iftar in Remembrance of Orlando Victims

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway
Iftar in Remembrance of Orlando Victims

Thank you for inviting me to deliver remarks this evening. Ramadan Mubarak to you all. My remarks will be very brief, as I know many of you are keen to break your fast. I wish we were brought together under better circumstances. The events that took place in Orlando were devastating, but often in the face of tragic events we come together and gain a better understanding of the superficial traits we once thought divided us. It is in that vein that folks from all walks of life in Guyana are brought together for this Iftar. Thank you to the organizers from SASOD and Mr. and Mrs. Khan for gathering us here tonight.

First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed. Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, an area I am quite familiar with as my son attends university not too far from where the incident took place. However, I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in the U.S., and we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Advocates Brief Minister Norton on Key Issues for HIV Meeting at the UN this Week

On the evening of Monday, June 6, representatives from the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), on behalf of the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF), met with the Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. George Norton, M.P. ahead of the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV (HLM), that is set to take place at the UN Headquarters in New York, from Wednesday June 8 to Friday 10, 2016.

The GEF representatives attending the HHLM are Miriam Edwards of the Guyana Sex Work Coalition (GSWC) and the Caribbean Sex Workers Coalition (CSWC), Devanand Milton of Guyana Trans United (GTU) and John Quelch of SASOD. The three local groups led by key populations are also members of the regional Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

SASOD’s Managing Director, Joel Simpson, Projects Coordinator, John Quelch and Advocacy and Communications Officer Schemel Patrick,  attended the meeting with the Minister Norton to discuss the important opportunities the HLM presents for both government and civil society in the global AIDS response, particularly as it relates to setting bold new targets for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, human rights and the legal framework, young people, women and girls, key populations, financing and investment.