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

Remarks
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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Chilean Ambassador to Open SASOD’s 12th Film Festival this Thursday


“Painting the Spectrum 12,” SASOD’s twelfth annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film festival 2016 opens this Thursday, June 2, for nine ‘edutaining’ evenings of thought-provoking films and post-screening discussions at the Dutch Bottle Café located at 10 North Road, Bourda.

From June 2 to 30, patrons are invited to enjoy screenings every Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The dates to remember are June 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25. Showtime is 6 pm every evening.

This year’s festival is set to be opened with a “Chilean Night” hosted by Ambassador H.E. Claudio Rojas Rachel, Chile’s Ambassador to Guyana. The evening’s treat will feature tasty empanadas and wine from Chile. The featured film for the evening is a Chilean movie donated by the Embassy titled “My Last Round.” The movie chronicles the intense romantic relationship between Hugo and middle-aged local boxing champion, Octavio. Unfazed by the attention he receives from women, Hugo searches for something meaningful to break up the monotony of his life. He becomes captivated with Octavio who must maintain a hard and gruff image for his fans and fellow fighters. They enter into an intense romance that would never be accepted in their small town in southern Chile. This feature tells a heartfelt story with an assured hand, eliciting complex and naturalistic performances that capture the passionate rise and tragic fall of a couple's relationship.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Painting the Spectrum 12: SASOD’s LGBT Film Festival 2016

Painting the Spectrum 12:
SASOD’s LGBT Film Festival 2016
Movie Schedule 

Thursday, June 2 
SPONSORED BY EMBASSY OF CHILE TO GUYANA 
MY LAST ROUND – Gay / Drama
Country: Chile | Duration: 110 mins

Unfazed by the attention he receives from women, Hugo searches for something meaningful to break up the monotony of his life. The young man becomes captivated with Octavio, a middle-aged local boxing champion, who must maintain a hard and gruff image for his fans and fellow fighters. When Octavio furtively acts on the subtle flirtations Hugo throws at him, he is abruptly rejected. Hugo tries to curtail his desire, but eventually surrenders to their magnetic attraction. They enter into an intense romance that would never be accepted in their small town in southern Chile. This feature tells a heartfelt story with an assured hand, eliciting complex and naturalistic performances that capture the passionate rise and tragic fall of a couple's relationship. (www.imbd.com)

Guyana Charged to Amend Discrimination Law in 50th Jubilee Year

Stephanie Joseph de Goes, Guyana’s Country Coordinator for the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief – PEPFAR, a United States governmental initiative to address the global HIV epidemic with her office based at the US Embassy in Georgetown, spoke on the dire need for Guyanese to come together to fight against stigma and discrimination for those living and infected by  HIV.

Her remarks made at Guyana’s 7th Annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial held at the Catholic Life Centre by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Sunday last gave an uplifting charge for the future. “This year’s theme, to engage, educate, and empower, emphasizes the need for each one of us – not just people living with HIV or gender minorities –to join forces in the movement for human rights and zero discrimination. We must put an end to the disease of stigma and discrimination,” she said. “Stigma and discrimination eats at the soul of a society. We know that eliminating stigma and discrimination will positively affect a nation’s progress, well-being, and public health for things like HIV prevention, care and treatment.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bigotry Towards LGBT Guyanese Causes Poor Mental Health – says Expert Panel

In observance of the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17 and commemorating Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) hosted a Lunch Talk on Mental Health and Well Being for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Guyanese with discussions being led by Dr. Janice Jackson, Psychologist and retired University of Guyana lecturer; Leroy Adolphus, Policy and Advocacy Officer at the National Coordinating Coalition Inc (NCC); and Dr. Melissa Varswyk, Principal of Georgetown American University and Vice-Chair of Blue CAPS. The discussions were moderated by Ulelli Verbeke, Chairperson of SASOD's Board of Directors.

Guyana needs more mental health professionals 
Given the scarcity of mental health professionals in Guyana which impedes access to services for LGBT people, Dr Melissa Varswyk made a call for vulnerable communities such as the LGBT Guyanese to form groups in civil society for policy and advocacy and community support like SASOD which she said can very influential in offering support for persons suffering with mental health conditions. This she said will not be easy initially but support mechanisms are essential for persons who are struggling. Dr. Varswyk expressed that there is a significant lack of trained mental health professionals in Guyana and on the policy side of things Guyana needs to focus heavily on investing in more skilled professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists. According to the medical professional, a lot of students show interest in mental health and psychiatric specializations but Guyana does not have the human resources and necessary specialized training to fulfill the needs for these fields of study.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

GCCI President Calls for Amendment of the Prevention of Discrimination Act

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Mr. Vishnu Doerga made a call for the government to amend the 1997 Prevention of Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation, gender identity and health status as grounds for non-discrimination in employment; he made this call while addressing an audience at the seventh national AIDS Candlelight Memorial Vigil hosted by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Sunday evening at the Catholic Life Centre, Brickdam.

The Chamber President spoke about the importance of engaging people, communities, governments, donors and the private sector in ending the epidemic and to also support those living with the HIV virus, “We must seek to empower people living with HIV to stand up for their right to live a life free of stigma and discrimination. In this regard, it is important for us to ensure that our organisations are free from stigma and discrimination through workplace programmes for our staff.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Remarks by President of GCCI, Vishnu Doerga at the 7th National AIDS Candlelight Memorial

President GCCI, Vishnu Doerga 
Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana, Bishop Francis Alleyne, PEPFAR Guyana Country Coordinator, Ms. Stephanie Joseph de Goes, other members of the diplomatic community, government officials, civil society representatives, ladies, gentlemen, boy and girls, good evening to you all. 

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial brings together affected communities, policy makers, health professionals, religious leaders and members of the public to show solidarity and support for persons infected and affected by HIV; to encourage people to continue to act together, and to call on the public to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, and key affected populations.

As President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), I fully endorse this year’s theme which is “Engage, Educate, Empower.” I do believe that it is imperative to engage people, communities, governments, donors and the private sector in ending the epidemic. The private sector has a pivotal role to play in limiting the spread of HIV. An important avenue to ensure that this happens is through workplace education. We have a responsibility to educate the current and next generation about HIV prevention, treatment and care, and how it affects our lives.