Tuesday, September 27, 2016

GEF Holds Second Annual Sunday Fun Day for International Day of Peace


    U.N. Resident Coordinator, and Director of Youth spoke of national importance to foster peace and development
The Guyana Equality Forum (GEF) on Sunday last commemorated International Day of Peace with their second annual “Peace Day Sunday Fun Day” in which five teams from various civil society and youth groups competed in eighteen activities, including novelty games and sports. 

International Day of Peace was celebrated under the theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” which supports the GEF's mandate of human rights and equality for all Guyanese since gender equality, quality education, good health, reduced inequalities, peace and justice are all sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

Peace and Equality 

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the event, the new United Nations Resident Coordinator for Guyana, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka expressed that peace is created in synergy with all the SDGs. Numerous studies, she said, have pointed out that poverty, hunger, unemployment, competition over natural resources such as land and water are factors that contribute to conflict. “Education and wellbeing, including living in balance with our natural environment and mitigating risks from disasters, are important drivers to sustainable development and peace.” Speaking of equality, she said that “peace can only be appreciated if we are all equal, despite our gender, race, sexual orientation, spoken language, religion or which part of the country we are from.” 

The local UN Coordinator noted that the 50th anniversary of the Guyana’s independence offers an opportunity to reflect on the progress and remaining tasks towards achieving the vision of the “Land of Six Peoples, United and Free.” 

“The work of the Guyana Equality Forum and its members is extremely important in this regard,” she said. “The GEF was formed as a collaborative response by local civil society to addressing human rights abuses against sexual and gender minorities and other vulnerable and marginalized groups in Guyana.”

“The SDGs are building blocks for peace. Peace is not just about putting weapons aside. It is about building societies where people share the benefits of prosperity on a healthy planet. Peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must all work for, ever day in ever country. These goals are essential for lasting peace and both depend on human rights,” the UN official concluded.  

The GEF’s “Peace Day Sunday Fun Day” sought to promote positive health and well-being, encourage youth participation, civic engagement and the advancement of human rights and equality. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) won the games, while Duquan Cumberbatch of the Guyana Trans United (GTU) copped the award for most outstanding athlete; Come Alive Network Inc. (CANI) won the Dance Pass.

Sports for Peace and Unity

Giving the Closing Remarks, Director of Youth, Melissa Carmichael, on behalf of the Minister within the Ministry of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry, M.P., highlighted that it is a clever choice to hold a day of sports to commemorate and celebrate peace because sports is an activity that draws people from all walks of life. “Sports unites people. It does not discriminate against gender, ethnicity, religion or status – people of all ethnic groups, genders and ages come together as one,” she said. She expressed “Guyana does not belong to any particular ethic group or combination of groups. It is important that all Guyanese observe and respect human rights and uphold our motto of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny,” she added, expressing hope that the activity fosters bonds and social cohesion that will help to make Guyana a country of peace and stability.

“Good relations, peaceful co-existence and cohesion among communities are a key ingredient for sustainable development and growth,” Carmichael stated. “No country in the world can develop if it does not build on peace; if it does not experience peace. Peace therefore can be seen as one of the pillars on which nations prosper economically, socially and politically.” 

She concluded by giving a charge to the athletes to appreciate diversity, have respect for each other’s culture, religion and beliefs, and nurture harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of different genders, ethnicities, religions and social classes. 

The GEF’s 2016 Peace Day Sunday Fun Day was supported by the High Commission of Canada to Guyana, Sentinel Security Inc. and the Guyana Girls Guide Association.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Remarks by Abdel Fudadin at World Suicide Prevention Day Candlelight Vigil

Remarks by Abdel Fudadin 
SASOD-TCV “Voices Against Violence” Candlelight Vigil for World Suicide Prevention Day

We have all been programmed to respond to the human difference between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human difference as equals. As a result, those differences have been misused in the service of separation and confusion.

Prejudice, discrimination, social exclusion and mental ill-health are interconnected in more than one way. While people with mental illnesses may face discrimination due to stigma attached to mental health symptoms, discrimination on a variety of grounds can also be at the root of mental health issues.

Discrimination and exclusion have proven to negatively impact persons with mental health illnesses which then increase their risk of suicide ideation. On a social level, prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) are reflected in everyday stereotypes compounded by very rigid social identity expectations, for example, limitations on job opportunities, parenting, and relationship recognition are often justified by stereotyping assumptions.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Remarks by Allie Schlafer at World Suicide Prevention Day Candlelight Vigil

Hello and good evening. First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Allie Schlafer and I am a current serving Peace Corps Response volunteer at both SASOD and Guyana Trans United, specializing in the field of mental health. For those who may not know, the Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government in efforts to address social and economic development worldwide.

As a volunteer, I will be working in collaboration with SASOD to strengthen and support the staff in addressing mental health concerns within the community. The comments and views I express tonight are in no way affiliated with Peace Corps but are my personal opinions based on experience working in community mental health and also individual experiences of losing dear friends who have taken their own life.

We are gathered here on World Suicide Prevention Day to address the difficult and painful subject of suicide, a reality which fractures the happiness of too many families, individuals, and communities across Guyana. The loss of a family member, friend, coworker or peer through suicide is a devastating experience. Those who remain after a suicide are often overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, hurt, and regret; they struggle to adapt or understand a life robbed of the presence of a loved one, often times grappling with the simple question – why?

Friday, August 26, 2016

SASOD to host "Sing De Ting: Karaoke & Lyme" Next Wednesday

Next Wednesday, August 31, 2016, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) will be hosting its first “Sing De Ting: Karaoke & Lyme” at the Dutch Bottle Cafe, located at 10 North Road, between Light and Cummings Streets, Bourda, in Georgetown.

The fun starts at 6 PM and admission is absolutely FREE. Karaoke fans are encouraged to come out for an entertaining and exhilarating evening filled with singing, networking and merriment. All genres of music will be available for singers to make their selections. Drinks and snacks will be on sale. Come enjoy the evening’s signature cocktails and shots by popular Guyanese mixologists. 


This exciting fundraising event will benefit SASOD’s LGBT Emergency Shelter Fund which aims to provide support and services to homeless LGBT youth and other victims of bias violence.

Friday, August 12, 2016

SASOD Engages in Three Days of Activities for Youth Day

On the eve of International Youth Day, Thursday August 11, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) hosted a Youth Empowerment Session for 20 young people at their Charlotte Street office in Georgetown. The half-day session which was facilitated by renowned Guyanese motivational speaker and personal development coach Dr. Astell Collins focused on self- discovery, leadership, enhancing talents, abilities, and strengths to maximize potential and having emotional intelligence for good mental health. The session, which was well received by the participants, began three days of activities from the human-rights organisation to commemorate International Youth Day. Lunch and juice for the participants were donated by Bettencourt's Food Inc. and Global Fruit Mart, respectively.  

On the Day itself, Friday, August 12, SASOD participated in the Youth Fair organised by the Ministry of Education's Department of Youth which was held at the National Cultural Centre's tarmac.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Dinner and Discussion on Discrimination in the Workplace

On Wednesday, August 10, 2016, Ambassador of the United States of America to Guyana, H. E. Perry Holloway hosted a “Dinner and Discussion on Discrimination in the Workplace” at his residence. The milestone event was organized at the request of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) as part of the Guyana Workplace Equality Project, which is a partnership between SASOD and the US Embassy and funded by the US State Department’s Global Equality Fund. Present at the dinner meeting were key business leaders from major private sector organisations and SASOD’s Advocacy and Communications Officer, Schemel Patrick, and Managing Director, Joel Simpson. 

The gathering discussed practical ways that the private sector can partner with SASOD to tackle discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and health status in the workplace; particularly in policy development and implementation, workplace education programmes and legal reform. 

The other attendees were Vishnu Doerga, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI); Suzanne French, Executive Director of the Guyana Business Coalition on Health Awareness (GBCHA); Donna Roberts-Benjamin, GBCHA’s President; Ramesh Persaud, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) and Past President of the Private Sector Commission (PSC); Patricia Bacchus, CEO of Caribbean Container Inc. and Chairperson of the Board of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest); Gerald Gouveia, Director of the Roraima Group of Companies; and US Embassy officials Sandra Zuniga Guzman, Deputy Counselor, Political, Economic and Commercial Section D. James Bjorkman, Counselor of the Political, Economic and Commercial Section and Terry Steers-Gonzalez, Deputy Chief of Mission.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

SASOD met with the Brazilian Ambassador

Representatives of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) met with the Brazilian Ambassador and his First Secretary on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, at the Brazilian Embassy in Georgetown. They discussed the state of human rights for LGBT people in Guyana, and how Brazil can support the Guyanese LGBT human rights movement. 

In photo from left: Joel Simpson, SASOD Managing Director; Miriam Leitao, First Secretary; H.E. Lineu Pupo De Paula, Ambassador of Brazil to Guyana; Jairo Rodrigues, SASOD Social Change Coordinator. (SASOD Photo)