Thursday, December 21, 2006

SASOD message 2007

SASOD believes this story of male bonding across differences is inspiring in a world of hate. It is an old story.

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, 2004 before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter much when we need the comfort of another. We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures of God. Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together.

For updates, including the addition of Cleo, check check out their blog

Friday, December 08, 2006

SASOD Statement for International Human Rights Day - 2006

On Sunday, December 10, 2006, we will observe International Human Rights Day under the theme “Fighting poverty: a matter of obligation, not charity.” Poverty and human rights are inextricably linked. People whose rights are denied -- victims of discrimination or persecution, for example -- are more likely to be poor. And poverty is often characterized by factors like discrimination and social and cultural stigmatization. These factors are the epitome of the denial of human rights and human dignity, especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons.

Notwithstanding that these human rights violations against LGBT persons persist, even more so if they are poor, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) welcomes the landmark statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, delivered on Friday, December 1, 2006 at the United Nations Human Rights Council by Norway on behalf of 54 states as the dawning of a new era in human rights for LGBT persons. (see More than 460 NGOs, including SASOD, from 69 countries, had joined together to commend Norway for its leadership and to support the statement.

The statement condemns human rights violations directed against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, commends the work of the UN mechanisms and civil society in this area, calls on UN Special Procedures and treaty bodies to address these issues, and urges the Human Rights Council to pay due attention to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including consideration at an upcoming session.

Earlier this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in a keynote speech to an International Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights noted that “violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. … This shameful silence is the ultimate rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights. … Excluding LGBT individuals from these protections clearly violates international human rights law as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all.”

Similarly, Secretary General Kofi Annan has acknowledged that “discrimination on the basis of … sexual orientation … is all too common” and, speaking at a gathering of lesbian and gay UN employees, affirmed that “the United Nations cannot condone any persecution of, or discrimination against, people on any grounds.”

At a time when the Human Rights Council is seeking to enhance cooperation across regions and UN mechanisms on matters of basic human rights, it is encouraging that increasingly states, Special Procedures, treaty bodies, civil society, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are joining together to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity receive the international scrutiny and condemnation they require.

Meanwhile, in Guyana, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), the only established rights-based, constitutional body, with a mandate to “encourage and create respect for religious, cultural and other forms of diversity in a plural society” under Article 212D paragraph (f) of the Constitution, has recently declined, after almost a year, a request to intervene in the propagation at state-owned venues of musical lyrics which incite hatred and violence against homosexuals. What is most alarming about the ERC’s refusal is that it has reached a decision in writing without a hearing on the request that based on “legal advice” that it is to deal with issues specifically on ethnicity. One would have thought the ERC’s attorney would advise that the persons making the request have a right to be heard as to why sexuality is one of the “…other forms if diversity in a plural society” under Article 212D paragraph (f) and therefore within its mandate. SASOD is seriously concerned at the ERC’s blatant prejudice and intends to seek higher redress for this wanton disregard for natural justice and flagrant violation of human rights.

NGO Support for Norway Statement


3rd Session

1 December, 2006



Action Canada for Population and Development; Amnesty International; Association for the Prevention of Torture; Association for Women’s Rights in Development; Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Center for Women's Global Leadership; Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (New Rights Section); Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN); Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme; Global Rights; Human Rights Watch; International Commission of Jurists; International Planned Parenthood Federation; International Service for Human Rights; International Trade Union Confederation; OMCT - World Organisation Against Torture ; Public Services International; Women for Women's Human Rights - NEW WAYS; World Population Foundation

I am pleased to speak to issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights, on behalf of 19 ECOSOC-accredited NGOs. This statement is also supported by more than 460 additional NGOs from 69 countries (see attached list).

We welcome the statement on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, delivered by Norway on behalf of a broad grouping of 54 States from Western, Central and Eastern Europe, in North, Central and South America, in Asia, and in the Pacific. We acknowledge also the support of many African States for the inclusion of sexual orientation in UN resolutions condemning extrajudicial executions.

We commend Norway for its leadership, building on similar initiatives by Brazil, New Zealand and others, and we are particularly encouraged by the measurable increase in cross-regional support for these issues in recent years.

It is hard to imagine that any State committed to human rights could disagree with the principle that no person should face death, torture or violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We look forward to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to join the statement, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.

Numerous Special Procedures have documented violations of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, including use of the death penalty, torture, criminal sanctions, police harassment, violence, rape, beatings, disappearances, denials of freedom of expression, raids and closures of NGOs, and discrimination in education, employment, health and housing.1 We urge all Special Procedures to integrate these important issues of human rights concern into their relevant mandates.

Too often in the past, these human rights abuses have passed in silence. As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour stated earlier this year:2

“[V]iolence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. … This shameful silence is the ultimate rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights. … Excluding LGBT individuals from these protections clearly violates international human rights law as well as the common standards of humanity that define us all.”

… 2

Similarly, Secretary General Kofi Annan has acknowledged that “discrimination on the basis of … sexual orientation … is all too common” and, speaking at a gathering of lesbian and gay UN employees, affirmed that “the United Nations cannot condone any persecution of, or discrimination against, people on any grounds.”3

At a time when this Human Rights Council is seeking to enhance cooperation across regions and UN mechanisms on matters of basic human rights, it is encouraging that increasingly States, Special Procedures, treaty bodies, civil society, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are joining together to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity receive the international scrutiny and condemnation they require.

This issue will not go away. We look forward to future discussion within this Council, with a view to safeguarding the principle of universality, and ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition to the 19 ECOSOC-accredited NGOs listed, this statement is supported by NGOs from the following 69 countries:

Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Iran, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

These more than 460 NGOs include:

ABDS- Associação Afro-Brasileira de Desenvolvimento Social
ABGLT - Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgeneros
ABRAT – GLS – Associação Brasileira de Turismo GLS
Accept Association
Ações Cidadãs em Orientação Sexual
Adé Fidan
ADEH-Nostro Mundo
African-rapport networks
ALEGRI - Advocating for Lesbian and Gay Rights Internationally
ALGA ( Associação Lagartense de Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais e Transgêneros)
ALITT Asociacion de Luxha por la Identidad Travesti Transexual
Alliance of LGBT people and their Friends
Alliance Rights, Nigeria
APHRODITTE – Organização Trans
APOLO - Grupo Pela Livre Orientação Sexual
APRENDA- Associação Paulista de Redutores de Danos
APROSVI- Associação dos Profissionais do sexo do Vale do Itajaí
APTA – Associação para Prevençaõ e Tratamento de Aids
ARC International
Arci Lesbica
Area Queer Tucuman
Armazem Social - Monitoramento, Avaliação e Construção de Tecnologias Sociais
Articulação Brasileira de Lésbicas - ABL
Articulação e Movimento Homossexual de Recife - AMHOR
Articulação Nacional das Travestis e Transexuais - ANTRA
Asociación Hombres y Mujeres Nuevos de Panamá (AHMNP)
Asociación Líderes en Acción
Asociación para la Salud Integral y Ciudadanía en América Latina y Caribe
Asociación Salvadoreña de Derechos Humanos "Entre Amigos"
Assistência Filantrópica a Aids de Araruana – AFADA
Associação Amazonense GLT
Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS-ABIA
Associação Civil Anima
Associação da Parada do Orgulho GLBT de São Paulo
Associação das Prostitutas do Ceará
Associação das Travestis da Paraíba - ASTRAPA
Associação das Travestis de Salvador – ATRÁS
Associação das Travestis do Amazonas - ATRAAM
Associação das Travestis do Espírito Santo – ASTRAES
Associação das Travestis do Mato Grosso - ASTRAMT
Associação das Travestis do Mato Grosso do Sul
Associação das Travestis do Rio Grande do Norte - ASTRARN
Associação de Defesa Homossexual de Sergipe - ADHONS
Associação de Gays e Amigos de Nova Iguaçu – AGANI
Associação de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros da Região Águas Quentes - AGLST-RAQ
Associação de Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais e Transgêneros de Santa Catarina
Associação de Gays, Transgêneros e Lésbicas de Anápolis
Associação de Homossexuais de Complexo Benedito Bentes - AHCBB
Associação de Homossexuais do Acre
Associação de Incentivo à Educação e à Saúde de São Paulo - AIESSP
Associação de Lésbicas de Minas - ALEM
Associação de Luta pela Vida
Associação de Negros do Estado de Goiás
Associação de Pessoas GLSBT – Ser Humano
Associação de Prevenção e Tratamento à Aids – APTA
Associação de Travestis de Belo Horizonte - ASSTRAV
Associação de Travestis do Ceará - ATRAC
Associação Desportiva de Gays, Lésbicas, Travestis e Transgêneros de Goiás
Associação dos Juízes do Rio Grande do Sul - AJURIS
Associação dos Moradores do Pontal - AMOP
Associação Enfrentar
Associação Gabrielense de Apoio à Homossexualidade – AGAH
Associação Gay de Imperatriz e Região
Associação Gay de Minas
Associação GLS- Vida Ativa
Associação Goiana de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros - AGLT
Associação Homossexual do Estado do Amazonas
Associação ILGA Portugal
Associação Ipê Amarelo de Conscientização e Luta pela Livre Orientação Sexual – GIAMA
Associação Irmãos da Solidariedade
Associação Jataiense de Direitos Humanos - Nova Mente
Associação Lagartense de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros - ALGA
Associação LIBLES
Associação Paranaense da Parada da Diversidade - APPAD
Associação Roraimense Pela Diversidade Sexual
Associação Viver
Association of Gay and Lesbian Armenians of France
Assuntos de Diversidade Sexual
ASTRA – Direitos Humanos e Cidadania GLTB
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Atitude – São José dos Campos
Atividade E’Natividade
ATOBÁ- Movimento de Afirmação Homossexual
Atos de Cidadania
Australian Bisexual Network
Australian Reproductive Health Alliance
Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud A.C.
Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum
Behind the Mask
Beijing Aizhixing Institute
Blue Diamond Society
Bulgarian Gay Organisation 'Gemini'
Cabo Free
Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Campaign For Change
Campanha Nacional pelo Fim da Exploração, violência e turismo sexual contra crianças e adolescentes
Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition
CECON Joana D'Arc
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Centre for the Development of People
Centre LGBT Paris IDF
Centro "Doña Luisa Gutierrez"
Centro Anti-aids de Feira de Santana
Centro Baiano Anti-Aids
Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador A.C.
Centro de Cidadania Sexual do GAPA-BA
Centro de Convivência Joanna D´arc
Centro de Estudios de Género y Diversidad Sexual
Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristán
Centro de Luta pela Livre Orientação Sexual - CELLOS
Centro de Luta pela Livre Orientação Sexual de Minas Gerais (CELLOS/MG)
Centro de Protagonismo Juvenil
Centro de Valorização da Mulher
Centro Para la Educación y Prevención del SIDA
Centro Paranaense de Cidadania – CEPAC
CFL - Coletivo de Feministas Lésbicas
Changing Attitude Nigeria
Chinese Society for the Study of Sexual Minorities
Chingusai - Korean Gay Men's Human Rights Group
Cidadania Gay
Cidadania, Orgulho e Respeito - COR
CIEI-SU (Centro de Investigación y Estudios Interdisciplinarios en Sexualidad del Uruguay)
CIMA (Interamerican Concertation of Human Rights's Activists)
Clube Rainbow de Serviços
Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO)
Coalition of African Lesbians
COC Netherlands
Colectiva de Activistas Trans de Nicaragua
Coletivo Feminista de Lésbicas - CFL
Commission LGBT des Verts
Common Language
Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA)
Comunidade Asha
CORSA - Cidadania, Orgulho, Respeito, Solidariedade e Amor
DIDH - Diversidad Interculturalidad y Derechos Humanos
Dom da Terra
E – Jovem
Edições GLS
El Closet de Sor Juana
Empowerment Lifestyle Services
Encuentros Instituto para la Promoción de la Diversidad y la Cultura
English-speaking gay group
Equal Ground
Equal Ground Pasifik
Equality for Gays And Lesbians In The European Institutions (EGALITE)
Equality Now! Development Group
Eros – Grupo de Apoio e Luta pela Livre Orientação Sexual do Sul da Bahia
Estruturação - Grupo LGBT de Brasília
European Forum of Lesbian and Gay Christian Groups
European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA)
European Women's Lobby
Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians
FAPA- Frente de Apoio e Prevenção da Aids
Fazendo a Diferença – Grupo Gay de Blumenau
FEDAEPS / LGBT South-South Dialogue
Federación Argentina de Lesbianas Gays Bisexuales y Trans
Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGT)
Fédération Française des Centres LGBT
Federation of Swedish LGBT Student Organizations
Filhos do Axé
Flor do Asfalto – Organização Trans
Foro de VIH Mujeres y Familia
Fórum das Transexuais de Goiás
Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG)
French Green Party
FTM Network
Fundación Arcoiris
Fundacion Henry Ardila
Fundación Reflejos de Venezuela
Fundación Triangulo
GAAC- Grupo Anti-aids de Camaçari
GAIVP – Grupo de Apoio e Incentivo à Vida Positiva
GAPA SJC – Grupo de Apoio à prevenção à Aids- São José dos Campos
GAPA-PA - Grupo de Apoio à prevenção à Aids do Pará
GASA- Grupo Ap. Sol. Paciente com AIDS
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
Gay Youth Commonwealth (GAYSER)
Gayrreiros do Vale do Paraíba - GVP
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
Gays Without Borders
GCC- Grupo de Convivência Cristã
Gender Action Group
Gender DynamiX
Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Gender Matters
GLEN ~ Gay and Lesbian Equality Network
Global Alliance for LGBT Education
GOS - Grupo de Orientação ao Soropositivo HIV+
GPH – Grupo de Pais de Homossexuais
Groupe de Défense des Droits des Homosexuelles du Togo
Grupo 28 de Junho- pela Cidadania Homossexual
Grupo 7 Cores
Grupo Afinidade
Grupo Afinidades – GLSTAL
Grupo Afro-descendente de Livre Orientação Sexual - GRADELOS
Grupo Água Vida de Prevenção à Aids
Grupo Amor e Vida
Grupo Arco-Íris de Conscientização Homossexual
Grupo Assistencial Experiência e Vida Ivandro Reis de Matos – GAE-Vida
Grupo Beija Flor
Grupo de Ação e Interação Homossexual – GAIH/Vida
Grupo de Amparo ao Doente de Aids - GADA
Grupo de Apoio Amor à Vida
Grupo de Apoio, Luta e Defesa dos Interesses das Minorias - GALDIUM
Grupo de Livre Orientação Sexual – GLOS
Grupo de Mujeres de la Argentina
Grupo de Mulheres Felipa de Sousa
Grupo de Resistência Asa Branca - GRAB
Grupo de Resistência Flor de Mandacaru
Grupo Dignidade
Grupo Dignidade - Pela Cidadania de Gays, Lésbicas e Trans
Grupo Diversidade de Sergipe
Grupo Diversidade Niterói
Grupo E-jovem de Adolescentes Gays, Lésbicas e Aliados
Grupo Eles por Eles
Grupo Esperança
Grupo Expressões
Grupo Gay da Bahia
Grupo Gay de Alagoas
Grupo Gay de Camaçari
Grupo Gay de Canavieiras
Grupo Gay de Dias D’Ávila
Grupo Gay de Guarujá
Grupo Gay de Lauro de Freitas
Grupo Gay de Pernambuco
Grupo Gay de Rondônia
Grupo Gayvota
Grupo Ghatta
Grupo Habeas Corpus Potiguar
Grupo Homossexual da Periferia
Grupo Homossexual do Cabo
Grupo Homossexual do Pará
Grupo Iguais
Grupo Lésbico da Bahia
Grupo Lésbico de Goiás
Grupo Liberdade, Igualdade e Cidadania Homossexual – GLICH
Grupo Licoria Ilione
Grupo Livre-Mente
Grupo Matizes
Grupo Orgulho, Liberdade e Dignidade - GOLD
Grupo Oxumaré- Direitos Humanos Negritude e Homossexualidade
Grupo Palavra de Mulher
Grupo Pela Vidda Niterói
Grupo Pela Vidda/ RJ
Grupo Renascer
Grupo Rosa Vermelha
Grupo Safos
Grupo Semente da Vida
Grupo Tartaruga Gay
Grupo União pela Vida
Grupo Unificado de Apoio à Diversidade Sexual de Parnaíba – O GUARÁ
GRUVCAP- Grupo de Voluntário de Cajueiro da Praia
Hapu (homosexuales ayuda puno)
Háttér Társaság a Melegekért (Háttér Support Society for LGBT People in Hungary)
Homosexualités Et Socialisme
Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien
IDAHO Committee
Identidade de Campinas
IEC "Women's Network"
IGLYO (International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth and Student Organisation)
ILGA Europe
ILGA Women's Secretariat
Immigration Equality
INCAT – Instituto Catarinense pela Cidadania e Diversidade Humana
Inclusive Foundation
Information Clearinghouse for Chinese Gays and Lesbians
INOVA - Associação Brasileira de Famílias GLTTB
INPAR - Instituto Paranaense 28 de Junho
Instituto Arco-Íris
Instituto de Estudios de la Mujer "Norma Virginia Guirola de Herrera" Cemujer
Instituto de Formación Sexológica Integral SEXUR
Instituto Edson Néris
Instituto Runa de Desarrollo y Estudios sobre Género
Instituto Ser Humano
Integrity/Integrated Fellowship Uganda
Interassociative LGBT
Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights in the European Parliament
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
International Initiative for Visibility of Queer Muslims
International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Organization
International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)
International Lesbian and Gay Law Association (ILGLAW)
Intersex Society of South Africa
Ipê Rosa
Iranian Queer Organization
Iskorak - Sexual and gender minorities center
Iwag Dabaw
Kirovograd organization of All-Ukrainian Network for people living with AIDS
Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center
La Colectiva Mujer y Salud de República Dominicana
La Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad
Labrystheia, Network of lesbian theologians
Lambdaistanbul LGBTT Association
Las Amantes de la Luna
L'Autre Cercle
LBL (Danish National Organisation for Gays and Lesbians)
Les Verts
Lesbenorganisation Schweiz LOS
Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD)
Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines (LAGABLAB-Pilipinas)
Lesbian and Gay Pride
Lesbian Organization Rijeka (LORI)
Lésbicas Gaúchas - LEGAU
LGBT History Month
LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru
Libertos Comunicação
Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH)
Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment
Macedonian Association for Free Sexual Orientation (MASSO)
Malta Gay Rights Movement
Minas de Cor
MOLECA – Movimento Lesbico de Campinas
Movimento Acorda Cabuçu
Movimento Arco-Iris da Sociedade Horizontina - MAISH
Movimento D´ELLAS
Movimento de Articulação Homossexual de Paulo Afonso
Movimento de Emancipação Sexual, Cidadania, Liberdade e Ativismo do Mato Grosso do Sul – MESCLA
Movimento do Espírito Lilás - MEL
Movimento Gay das Gerais
Movimento Gay de Divinópolis
Movimento Gay de Minas (MGM)
Movimento Gay do Sul de Minas do Vale do Aço
Movimento Gay e Alfenas e Região Sul de Minas
Movimento Gay Leões do Norte
Movimento Homossexual de Belém
Movimento Livre
Movimiento de Integración y Liberación (Movilh)
Mulabi - Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos
Nash Mir (Our World) Gay and Lesbian Center
NEPS – Nucleo de Estudos e Pesquisa em Sexualidade
Nikolaev Association of gays, lesbians and bisexuals "LiGA"
Non-patriarchal Inter-faith Organisation Logos
Nordic Rainbow Council
Nordic Rainbow Humanists
Núcleo de Ação Solidária à Aids - NASA
Opus Gay
Organização dos Direito e Cidadania de Homossexuais do Estado do Maranhão
Organización de Transexuales Por la Dignidad de la Diversidad
Organization Q
OUT LGBT Well-being
Outra Visão – Grupo GLTB
Pink Cross
PMB Gay & Lesbian Network
Press for Change
ProGay Philippines
Programa Integrado de Marginalidade - PIM
Projeto Solidariedade do Fórum Goiano de Luta Contra a AIDS
Provida – Associação Nacional Provida
Quimbanda Dudu
Raíz Diversidad Sexual
Red Democracia y Sexualidad Puebla
Red LGBT de Venezuela
Red Nacional de Diversidad Sexual y VIH y sida
Rede de Informação Um Outro Olhar
Rede Sol
Rede Solidariedade Positiva
REDUC - Brazilian Harm Reduction association
Rights Australia
RNP + SOL – Rede Nacional de Solidariedade (Aids)
RNP+ Curitiba e Região Metropolitana
RNP+ Núcleo RJ
ROHS Homosexuella socialister
Rosa Vermelha
San Antonio Gender Association
Sangini (India) Trust
Sans Contrefaçon
Satyricon- Grupo de Apoio e Defesa da Orientação Sexual
Schools OUT
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
Sexuality Policy Watch
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
Shakti Samuha
SHUDO – Associação de Articulação de Defesa e Promoção dos Direitos Humanos
Siberian Human Rights Network "Rights Society"
Sociedad Mexicana de Sexologia Humanista A.C.
Sociedade Oásis
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)
Sohmos Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais e Transgêneros de Arapiraca
Solidarité Internationale LGBT
Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII)
SOMOS - Comunicação, Saúde e Sexualidade
Spectrum Uganda Initiatives INC
STV Brasil
Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
Swedish Youth Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI)
The Center for Justice and Accountability
The Norwegian National Association of Lesbian and Gay Liberation (LLH)
The Rainbow Project
The St.Petersburg LGBT Human Rights "Krilija" ("Wings") Centre
TransGender Europe (TGEU)
Transgrupo Marcela Prado
TransX - Austrian TransGender Association
Tucuxi - Núcleo de Promoção da Livre Orientação Sexual
Tupilak (Nordic rainbow cultural workers)
Turma OK
UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group
Unidas de Travestis
Unity Center Masal-NCP
Via a Diversidade
Voz pela Vida
Wake Up!
We for Civil Equality
Womyn's Agneda for Change
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

1 International Commission of Jurists:

2 Keynote Speech by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to International Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, Montreal, 26 July 2006:

3 Speech by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Global Compact Event held in conjunction with the WCAR, 1 September, 2001; Statement of Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the rights of gays and lesbians, 5 August, 2003,

Norway UNHRC Statement








Geneva, December 1, 2006

I have the honour to make this statement on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of the following 54 States, including 18 members of the Human Rights Council:

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, and my own country Norway.

* At its recent session, the Human Rights Council received extensive evidence of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including deprivation of the rights to life, freedom from violence and torture.

* We commend the attention paid to these issues by the Special Procedures, treaty bodies and civil society. We call upon all Special Procedures and treaty bodies to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity within their relevant mandates.

* We express deep concern at these ongoing human rights violations. The principles of universality and non-discrimination require that these issues be addressed. We therefore urge the Human Rights Council to pay due attention to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and request the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for a discussion of these important human rights issues.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006 - Statement

The Network of Guyanese Living with and Affected by HIV-AIDS (G+) and Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) join the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Caribbean Treatment Action Group (CTAG), two regional groups bringing together organisations working in HIV and AIDS, in calling for greater access to HIV medication, care and support for all persons infected with HIV in the Caribbean, particularly for those from socially marginalised groups. Among these groups are sex workers, men who have sex with men, drug users, prisoners, youth in especially difficult circumstances, and children who have lost one or more parent to AIDS-related illnesses.

Through the United Nations General Assembly Special Session plus Five (UNGASS+5) Political Declaration on HIV-AIDS, all governments, including the Guyana government:

“29. Commit to intensify efforts to enact, strengthen or enforce, as appropriate, legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups… and develop strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion connected with the epidemic.”

At a November meeting in Bayahibe in the Dominican Republic, the groups concluded that while access to care and treatment for HIV has improved in the Caribbean, it has been limited or non-existent for members of socially marginalised groups who are especially vulnerable to the impact of HIV because of stigma and discrimination. CVC and CTAG have released a joint statement outlining the framework within which effective and meaningful HIV treatment and support might take place in Caribbean countries.

Dubbed the "˜Bayahibe Declarationâ", the document calls on Caribbean governments, regional and international health authorities, and international donors to take immediate action to redress the problem of access to drugs and support faced by members of marginalised groups infected with or affected by HIV. It also provides a roadmap by which national governments, civil society actors, service providers and human rights defenders can assure all persons living with HIV in the Caribbean of proper care, treatment and support. CVC and CTAG believe that in this way, members of these groups can realise their fundamental human rights to life and health.

Among the elements the groups present as essential to improving access to treatment and support for HIV positive persons, especially those who are socially marginalised, are the assurance that all persons in detention, including foreign nationals, are informed of their right to obtain HIV-related information and services; the assurance that health care providers treat drug users with respect, and provide appropriate and non-discriminatory health care services; the education and sensitisation of children and youth regarding their human rights and the steps to take to report physical, sexual and other cases of abuse; the training of health care workers to provide effective services for men who have sex with men; the execution of programmes that aim to eradicate homophobia and heterosexism; the training of service providers at treatment sites in the human rights of sex workers; and the building or expansion of outreach facilities in areas where sex work is common.

The declaration was signed by individuals and agencies working in different speech communities across the Caribbean including representatives of both G+ and SASOD.


Bayahibe Declaration

November 2006

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition


Caribbean Treatment Action Group

In recent years, the international community has taken important initiatives to scale up access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy, especially in the developing world. Although these initiatives have fallen short of their targets, in the Caribbean, the region with the second highest infection rate in the world, they have generated essential political and financial support for making medication available at no or reduced cost, which has been critical to increasing the life expectancy of people living with HIV in the region.

The benefits, however, have not been equitably distributed. The widespread discrimination and abuse faced by members of socially marginalised groups -- sex workers, men who have sex with men, drug users, prisoners, young people in especially difficult circumstances, children who have lost one or more parent to AIDS -- heighten their risk of HIV infection, and impede their access to care and treatment where they are living with the disease. In this regard, their marginalised status compounds the stigma and discrimination they face because of HIV, and compromises or effectively bars their access to treatment.

This declaration, made in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic, in November 2006, calls for immediate action by Caribbean governments, regional and international health authorities, and international donors to correct the situation. This declaration also provides a roadmap for national governments, civil society actors, service providers and human rights defenders to ensure that all people living with HIV in the Caribbean can obtain proper care, treatment and support, and therefore realise their fundamental human rights to life and health.

Thus, cognisant of the urgent need to ensure effective and meaningful access to antiretroviral treatment for people in the Caribbean whose immune systems have been compromised by HIV;

Firmly resolved that states must take immediate steps to ensure equal access to treatment for all persons living with HIV as part of their obligations to protect the human right to health; and

Calling on duty-bearers mandated to provide health care and to protect the health and human rights of all people in the Caribbean,

We declare the following to be essential steps to be taken:

For people in Caribbean correctional facilities or other places of detention

1. Ensure all persons in detention, including foreign nationals, are informed of their right to obtain HIV-related information and services in a language they understand (this should include training and other assistance for family and community members who are part of an individual’s support system);
2. Ensure that all persons in detention, including detained foreign nationals, have prompt, adequate medical assessment on entry into custody, and access to essential medical treatment (patients should receive at least the same standard of care that could be expected for persons outside of the prison system) and guarantee a continuation of any medical treatment that began prior to incarceration;
3. Ensure the development, dissemination and adoption of written HIV policies that address

i. confidentiality

ii. attitudes of prison staff

3. staff training on HIV and
4. scheduled access by civil society groups;

4. Promote “through care” by allowing access to the prison by civil society groups;

5. Ensure that community boards monitoring prisoners’ rights include at least one person knowledgeable about HIV-related issues;
6. Ensure access to appropriate services for women (including gynaecological health services);
7. Ensure confidentiality and privacy with respect to all medical services;
8. Ensure adequate nutrition for all detainees and inmates.

For drug users in the Caribbean

1. Ensure that health care providers treat drug users with respect, and provide appropriate and non-discriminatory health care services;
2. Ensure that rehabilitation and other support centres for people who use drugs incorporate HIV-related services such as prevention and testing;
3. Provide support services for pregnant women who use drugs and their children, including post-delivery services and programmes for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV;
4. Sensitise and educate all service providers at addiction treatment sites about HIV- prevention and testing and the need to incorporate such services into their drug treatment programme;
5. Ensure that programmes and policies for people who use drugs are informed by research and other evidence (including research on barriers to access to health care services for drug users; use of peer educators to provide education and information) and are not driven by condemnatory, moralistic attitudes;
6. Identify, support and pay peer educators to facilitate access to treatment;
7. Ensure access for drug users to public health facilities;
8. Promote a harm reduction and public health approach to addressing drug use, including support for alternatives to incarceration for drug users;
9. Promote continuity of treatment and social assistance for drug users (e.g., on entry into and exit from custody).

For young people in especially difficult circumstances, including orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV in the Caribbean

1. Incorporate representatives of the youth community who are recommended and approved by local youth organisations at all levels of decision-making related to HIV/AIDS policy and implementation;
2. Establish children/youth advisory boards that will identify the needs and issues of concern to children/youth and that will guide programme development, including training for all children and youth in preparation for meaningful employment;
3. Conduct sensitisation, education and life skills training programmes about the process of disclosure for parents/caregivers of children who are HIV positive;
4. Educate and sensitise children and youth about their human rights and empower them to take necessary the steps to report physical, sexual and other cases of abuse;
5. Create an awareness of the need for redress for children and youth who have been denied access to treatment;
6. Ensure the legal system adequately addresses issues of abuse of youth and children;
7. Train children and youth to become adherence counsellors, peer educators, and advocates for the rights of children, and create opportunities for the utilisation of their skills;
8. Sensitise and educate all legal service providers about how to provide adequate legal services to children and youth;
9. Train children and youth to interact and effectively communicate with the media;
10. Engage children and youth in all areas of decision- and policy-making that affect their lives.

For men who have sex with men in the Caribbean

1. Incorporate representatives of the Caribbean men who have sex with men (MSM) community who are recommended and approved by local MSM organisations at all levels of decision-making related to HIV/AIDS policy and implementation;
2. Train health care personnel to effectively and affectively provide services for MSM;
3. Develop an internal MSM-community referral system to friendly health care facilities and service providers;
4. Execute programmes that aim to eradicate homophobia and heterosexism;
5. Repeal ‘sodomy’ laws to create a policy environment that is conducive for MSM to access all health care services;
6. Ensure access to treatment for HIV-positive MSM who are incarcerated, young or from rural areas;
7. Establish support groups for HIV-positive MSM which include their partners, families and friends to promote adherence;
8. Sensitise faith-based organisations, religious leaders, politicians, policy makers and legislators about the destructive impact of homophobia;
9. Incorporate these recommendations as part of national and regional level policies which promote human rights and the exercise of citizenship without stigma and discrimination of any kind, in particular for sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex workers in the Caribbean

1. Incorporate representatives of the sex work community who are recommended and approved by local sex work organisations at all levels of decision-making related to HIV/AIDS policy and implementation;
2. Train service providers at treatment sites in human rights of sex workers;
3. Offer comprehensive services, including VCT, to sex workers at all clinics;
4. Build and expand outreach facilities in areas where sex work is common;
5. Establish comprehensive referral system for adherence support;
6. Provide language assistance to foreign sex workers at clinic sites;
7. Provide confidential counselling for HIV positive sex workers;
8. Ensure HIV-positive sex workers who are sick have access to social services, education, and condom distribution regardless of residency status;
9. Provide equal access to services for brothel and street sex workers;
10. Ensure the non-disclosure of the sero-status of sex workers to others, including brothel owners;
11. Scale up treatment and care for sex workers beyond the brothel;
12. Ensure human rights protection for sex workers, including protection against sexual exploitation;
13. Decriminalise sex work.


Carlos Adón

Instituto Dominicano de Estudios Virológicos

Dominican Republic

Moisés Agosto

Tides Foundation

Puerto Rico

Juanita Altenberg

Maxi Linder Association


Harry Beauvais

Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education


Robert Best

United Gays and Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados


Dusilley Cannings

Network of Guyanese Living With and Affected by HIV/AIDS


Robert Carr

Caribbean Centre for Communication for Development

Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication

University of the West Indies


Milton Castelen

National AIDS Program


Veronica Cenac

AIDS Action Foundation

Saint Lucia

Rachel Charles

Hope PALS Network


Marcus Day

Caribbean Drug Abuse Research Institute

Saint Lucia

Joan Didier

AIDS Action Foundation

Saint Lucia

Novlet Dougherty-Reid

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life


Olive Edwards

Jamaica Network of Seropositives


Keenan Ferreira

Life Goes On


Patricia Figueroa

Caribbean Treatment Action Group

Puerto Rico

Devon Gabouriel

United Belize Advocacy Movement


Philipa García

Alianza Solidaria para el VIH/SIDA

Dominican Republic

Tamico Gilbert

Bahamas Human Rights

Amnesty International

Bahamian Friends of the Cuban Five


Mario Kleinmoedig



Steeve Laguerre



Rohan A. Lewis

Board Member

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition


Rosáura Lopez

Puerto Rico Concra

Puerto Rico

Deborah Manning

Board Member,

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities


Ian McKnight

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life


Aimé Charles Nicholas

Formation Interventions Recherche sur le Sida et les Toxicomanies Caraïbe

Départements français d’Amérique (Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyane)

Caleb Orozco

United Belize Advocacy Movement


Ricky Pascoe

Board Member

Caribbean Network of Seropositives

Ethel Pengel

Mamio Namen Project


Johane Philogène

Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education


Sissaoui Pierre

Entr’aides Guyane

French Guyana

Nastassia Rambarran

Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination


Leonardo Sánchez

Amigos Siempre Amigos

Dominican Republic

Joel Simpson

Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination


Yvonne Sobers

Families Against State Terrorism


Jonathan Waters

Red Voluntarios de Amigos Siempre Amigos

Dominican Republic

Solomon Wedderley

AIDS Foundation of The Bahamas

Bahamas National Network for Positive Living (BNN+)


Gareth Williams

Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Living with HIV/AIDS

For World AIDS Day 2006, this article was printed in the Guyana Chronicle of Sunday 26 November, 2006

In observance of World Aids Day 2006, the Guyana Chronicle begins a series of six articles on the programmes used here to fight the disease.

We begin, though, with a story of a university student, 24, currently employed at a commercial bank, who sees hope after testing positive for HIV/AIDS. His name has been withheld. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in Guyana in the 15-44 age group.

Killing myself
In 2005, I realised that I might be HIV positive. I had become very ill and lost a lot of weight. I started worrying about HIV.

I was scared of finding out the truth. I thought that I would kill myself if I was positive. I thought that it would be better not to know, and every time I heard 'HIV' I felt scared. I did not want to hear anything.

I thought that if I was HIV positive, it would be the end of my life. I did not trust any of the counselling services, since I heard many stories of confidentiality being breached. I did not have anyone to talk to about this, and my life was hell.

Deepest darkest secrets
In July 2006, I could not keep it to myself, and I confided in my best friend who knows everything about me. He urged me to do the test, but I could not bring myself to do it.

Another friend who I had recently met, seemed to me to be very considerate and confidential and opposed to discrimination. I told him how scared I was and I started to cry.

He told me that if I did not go to do the test, he would stop talking to me and tell this other guy I had a crush on. I believed he was crazy enough to do that. He also said he was going to go with me to do the test.

He and I went to do the test. My best friend also wanted to go with me, but he had to work.

Putting on a brave face
The counsellor told me about the test, and what was involved. I gave the blood. I did not feel I wanted my friend with me for the results. The counsellor asked me about the girl I had. I said nothing. She subsequently said she did not care about my sexual orientation, but I did not feel I wanted to say anything. She interpreted the results for me, and asked me if I had anything to say.

The tears came to my eyes, but I was determined not to cry. I had to leave and go back to work, and I put on a brave face and went out.

That afternoon, I told my friend the results. It was difficult. He found out that the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital was good to go for the check up. That night I went home and cried until I slept.

Learning everything about HIV/AIDS
After a few days, I made the appointment to see the doctor and counsellor at the Mercy Hospital, Georgetown. I was scared of going to the GUM Clinic which seemed too public. I realised that people would see me going into Mercy, but that my health was important and I did not care what they would think. The HIV advertisements now made sense to me, maybe too late.

I decided to read everything I could find on the Internet and everywhere else. The doctor asked me whether I had sex with men. I thought it was important to tell him the truth, and face any discrimination. There was none. They explained the treatment to me, and took the tests.

I went back after a month to start the ARV treatment. There were many tablets. I make sure that I know what tablets I am taking to keep informed.

Quitting smoking and drinking
I used to put my cell phone on alarm to remember when to take the tablets. There were many – six in the morning, five in the night. After a while I have grown accustomed to the routine. I have a pill box which allows me to fix the tablets in dosages. Most significant, I have stopped smoking and drinking.

I have found that it is easy to have a good time like other people. I tell my friends that I get drunk easily so I would not drink beers now. I eat better now, and I exercise every night. I feel good.

I think Mummy knows
I wish my mother could know, but I know she will be upset. Unlike cancer and TB and diabetes, she probably thinks that HIV is preventable. I try to hide the tablets from them – my mother and my siblings. I also try to leave the TV at any programme talking about HIV/AIDS. I do not think my mother would put me out if she knows; she would probably be upset with me for a little bit.

I do not know when I would tell her or the rest of my family. She has seen me ill and has dropped hints, but I don’t answer her. I think Mummy knows.

Telling other people

I told another friend. He cried with me for half an hour. He used to call me regularly before I told him, but I have not heard much from him since. I think because I stopped drinking and smoking and probably not wanting to go out.

Last year, I had unprotected sex with someone who I have feelings for and who has feelings for me. We thought that we could trust each other. I told him a few weeks ago to go and do a test since I am now HIV positive. It was difficult for me to do. He said he would go. I have to check with him.

Scared of being fired
I saw something at my workplace, where they say something that they will not unknowingly screen people for HIV. I do not want them to know my status, since I am scared of being fired. I do not know if they have any laws to stop that from happening. I keep my business to myself.

Before the test, I sometimes lost focus, and one time my manager asked me if everything was okay. I told her after I had accepted my test results that everything is fine.

I would like to educate others, to tell them what I know

I want to educate other people, to encourage them to do the test if they think they are positive and to start the treatment. People should not think that 'not knowing is best'. Before, at work, whenever they started talking about HIV at work, I used to shut up. Now, I make sure I keep the conversation going and talk about what I know, like how people are more likely to die from diabetes or heart disease complications rather than HIV/AIDS.

I have not thought of joining any organisation. I think it would be nice to meet other people who are HIV positive so as to share what is happening with us.

I am living
Death is the last thing on my mind. I am determined to live well with HIV. I have been inspired by other stories, like that of Magic Johnson [American basketball player who is HIV positive]. I believe I am responsible for myself and have to keep a positive outlook on life.

Whenever I get depressed, I call my best friend. I would like to continue my education, and to get a better job, and to do all the things which I had planned to do. Now, I appreciate life even more.

(** Our thanks to the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination for allowing us to use this story. In tomorrow’s issue, we examine the work of two Hindu organisations in removing myths about how the disease is spread and how they preach abstinence as the best way to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SASOD's note about the ERC delay

Letter published in Stabroek News and Kaieteur News of 22 November, 2006
Dear Editor,

The news that the South African parliament has voted
to legalise same sex marriages is encouraging.

This, at a time when South Africa faces serious
problems with crime, the spread of the HIV/AIDS
epidemic and poverty, demonstrates the commitment to
human rights even as, in other places, homophobic
leaders try to turn energies to preventing rights of
gay and lesbian citizens while ignoring issues such as
poverty and poor governance.

In Mexico City, same sex unions are also now
recognised, while in Buenos Aires, the laws which
criminalised the travesti (cross dressing) have been

As these trends emerge in the Global South, the
Caribbean continues to be plagued by homophobia and
excuses for homophobia. It is now almost a year since
SASOD has applied to the Ethnic Relations Commission
to exercise their mandate to "encourage and create
respect for religious, cultural and other forms of
diversity in a plural society" and rule on the
permission given by the State entities to promote
homophobic lyrics in the public venues.(
The Ethnic Relations Commission has not considered the

It is unknown whether the ERC has decided that
homosexuals are not worthy of human rights and respect
in a diverse society.

The tolerance of a call to kill is an indictment of
the society, especially since no one knows who next
will be targeted.

Yours faithfully,

Members of SASOD

Monday, November 06, 2006

Public Discussion International Day of Tolerance

SASOD held a discussion on Thursday 16 November, 2006 at Oasis Too,

Philip's rendition of the song Hero "So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you "
closed off an evening of brief but interesting discussions around tolerance and acceptance.

The discussion started a bit late, as things usually do in Guyana. The evening light was beautiful through the Oasis Too windows, and a warm atmosphere was created before we started. Scheherazade Ishoof was our first speaker and she approached tolerance looking at Voltaire and Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthal , one of the translators of the Quran. A quotation from voltaire " "
This little globe, which is but a point, rolls through space, as do many other globes; we are lost in the immensity of the universe. Man, only five feet high, is assuredly only a small thing in creation. One of these imperceptible beings says to another one of his neighbors, in Arabia or South Africa: 'Listen to me, because God of all these worlds has enlightened me: there are nine hundred million little ants like us on the earth, but my ant-hole is the only one dear to God; all the other are cast off by Him for eternity; mine alone will be happy, and all the others will be eternally damned."

They would then interrupt me, and ask which fool blabbed all this nonsense. I would be obliged to answer, "You, yourselves." I would then endeavor to calm them, which would be very difficult."

Tolerance was explored as a religious virtue, often misinterpreted by religious fundamentalists who needed to exploit power. Examples were given of the times when Muslims demonstrated tolerance and acceptance, and points were raised to show expressions of tolerance in the Quran. Omar Bissoon argued that tolerance was not acceptable, since it meant to endure that which was abhorrence, and that in divided societies, tolerance alone could not bring peace. He cited various discussions on tolerance in which people indicated that they 'hated' tolerance, and preferred respect and acceptance. Projects based on tolerance would be doomed since the basis was not valid, and the promotion of acceptance was necessary for differences- different religion, political views, sexuality, race, gender. He stressed the need for understanding and empathy , and the desire to know of other people to empathise with them. The quote from Oscar Wilde"
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
concluded his presentation.
Omar's full presentation could be downloaded here
Philomena Pilgrim from GPlus asked for no discrimination for people living with HIV AIDS, since HIV has no face, and it crosses race, class, gender. She stated the problems of discrimination. Karen Hall talked about facing discrimination as a person with a disability, and about overcoming that to find alliances and to rise through that. The questions and discussion afterwards were to seek clarification on perceptions of Islam as violent, of recognising the difference between tolerance and acceptance..
Thanks to Keimo who sang Stand Up to enhance the message of the evening.. and encouraged us to ask Phillip to do his song which made us feel like Heroes for continuing to stand up to discrimination.

SASOD Movie Night - Dangerous Living, Tuesday 14 November, 2006

Venue : Sidewalk Cafe, Middle Street, Georgetown

Time : 7:30pm

"While much art has focused on gay culture in America, less attention has been paid to the experiences of non-western gay communities. Director John Scagliotti turns his camera to that exact subject in this one-hour documentary hosted by Janeane Garofalo. Using interviews and personal accounts of mistreatment, persecution, and abuse, director John Scagliotti reveals the challenges that many gay and lesbian people face when deciding whether or not to come out of the
closet. Featured locations include Egypt, India, Vietnam, and Honduras among others."
running time : 62 minutes

We had an audience of about 16 persons. Feedback indicated that the film was interesting.
"For me it was very enlightening! and here's a
success story - my friend is sort of homophobic. I
didn't tell him what kind of film we were going to
watch until we were outside. He wanted to turn back
and I convinced him to go in on the basis that if he
didn't like what he saw we'll leave. He stayed until
the end and when i asked him how was it, he said he
now appreciates the challenges that gays and lesbians
face and his tolerance for such issues has increased."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

SASOD Movie Night - 3 October

SASOD showed 'On the Low' and 'When night is falling' at Sidewalk Cafe to an audience of about 20 persons. This resumes the movie night activities after teh film festival

Saturday, September 23, 2006

SASOD is encouraged by Open Letter from Indian citizens

THE support for the equality of gay and lesbian
citizens around the world was strengthened with the
issuing of an Open Letter to the Government of India
by more than 100 eminent persons of Indian origin

The letter was written by noted author, and endorsed
by Nobel Prize economist Amartya Sen. The other
signatories come from diverse walks of life, and
include academics, public servants, politicians,
lawyers, artists, soldiers, religious leaders, social
activists and business people. Some of them were
active in the fight for India's independence.

The purpose of the letter was to call for a repeal of
the colonial 'sodomy' laws which the authors believe
are held to oppress homosexual men. They join the list
of notable world citizens like

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, who
themselves survivors of oppression, have condemned the
oppression of gay and lesbian people.

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
welcomes the move by the Indian citizens to call for a
review of the legislation which criminalises
consensual same sex relationships.

Guyana, like India, inherited some of the oppressions
inherent in the colonial laws which have been repealed
in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the

SASOD calls for a reform of the various legislation
which deals with sexual offences, to remove the ban on
consensual sex. At the same time SASOD has joined with
other interest group to call for the urgent reform of
the legislation to improve the access to justice for
victims of sexual violence, especially child victims.

The signatories to that letter asserted that "There
should be no discrimination in India on the grounds of
sexual orientation. In the name of humanity and our
Constitution this cruel and discriminatory law should
be struck down."

Those who are interested in a progressive and
inclusive democracy in Guyana should also work towards
the removal of discrimination against gay and lesbian

Monday, September 04, 2006

SASOD responds to request for Information from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

In reference to your correspondence dated September 1,
2006, Society Against Sexual Orientation
Discrimination (SASOD) - Guyana provides the following
information at your request:

We note that the IRB has some information in a
previous request available at RIR GUY42340.E which
gives some background to the environment for the
treatment of homosexual people in Guyana.

Please find below the response to your specific
1)1. Treatment of homosexuals by society in general;
whether homosexuality is illegal.

The treatment of homosexuals by society in general
varies according to social class and economic
background. Persons who are openly gay of a higher
social stratum and those who are independently wealth
are more insulated from the strong homophobia that is
ever so present in the Caribbean to which Guyana is no
exception. Most working-class homosexuals are forced
to conceal their sexual orientation in fear of social
persecution, discrimination and stigma. In a survey on
suicide in Regions 5 & 6 during 2000 conducted by the
Regional HIV AIDS Committee noted that 8.9% of the men
who committed suicide were homosexual.

Under section 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act
Chapter 8:01, consensual sexual activity between men,
whether in public or private, is illegal. This Act is
available from
It is also a summary offence for a man to dress in
female attire. (check
As recently as Monday, May 15, 2006, a self-confessed
male prostitute, Ronell Trotman, was charged for this
summary offence before the Georgetown Magistrate
Court. Check
Stabroek News,
Tuesday 16 May, 2006.

An attempt by the Eighth Parliament of Guyana to
enshrine constitutional protection against
discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation
was strongly opposed by sections of the Christian and
Muslim communities. This resulted in the Parliament
rejecting the Amendment. A request dated December 2,
2005, by SASOD to the Ethnic Relations Commission for
the state to ban homophobic lyrics in popular music
has not been acknowledged despite repeated attempts by
SASOD in this regard. The Ethnic Relations Commission
is to the Ethnic Relations Commission, a
constitutional commission mandated to preserve respect
for diversity

2. Statistics of reported crimes against homosexuals
or statistics on prosecution of such crimes. Work of
the police, the courts and the authorities in general
in relation with the protection of homosexual persons.

There are no statistics on homophobic crimes or their
prosecution. Homophobia results in the under-reporting
of several sexual offences committed by men against
other men.

SASOD receives reports of police brutality against
homosexual people, but many of the victims are scared
to follow up on the reports. The reports also include
sexual violence committed by police.

3. Non-governmental organizations working to support
and/or protect homosexual persons.

In addition to the SASOD, the Guyana Rainbow
Association (GuyBow) does HIV/AIDS work with
vulnerable groups including Men who have Sex with Men
(MSM) and male-to-female transgender Commercial Sex
Workers (CSW) and provides related support to these

The Guyana Human Rights Association has investigated
reports of police brutality when asked.

SASOD is a human rights advocacy group in Guyana
working against discrimination particularly on the
grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity
since 2003. SASOD also organizes various activities to
promote respect and tolerance for all forms of
diversity in a plural society. SASOD has managed to
conduct some activities but always in an atmosphere of
apprehension. More information on our activities is
available on our website at .

Friday, August 25, 2006

SASOD Endorses Civil Society Committment to Good Governance

Members of the organizations listed below wish to record our disappointment that once again we are approaching general elections without the long-promised constitutional and electoral reforms in place which would make them secure and meaningful. Creation of appropriate electoral constituencies, equal representation of women with men and a candidates’ list which allows voters to know clearly for whom one is voting, are some examples of agreed reforms. Rather than usher in a new and dynamic democracy, elections under our system are a discredited and demeaning ritual.

A related source of disappointment is the seeming willingness of the diplomatic and donor community to travel the same road in spite of their own analysis of the need for implementation of the promised reforms. Calls for peaceful behaviour would be more convincing if accompanied by acknowledgement that the electorate has been short-changed with respect to reforms. Citizens are not prone to electoral violence by coincidence, but by repeated failure of political leadership in general to deliver on their promises.

Pinning hope for change on third party politics rather than constitutional and electoral reform has created a belated need for a flurry of programmes to pacify frustrated citizens, as if they, rather than bankrupt political systems, are the cause of Guyana’s problems.

Failure to implement electoral laws is symptomatic of the broader governance experience of the past four decades. Reforms widely agreed as necessary with respect to the Constitution, the economy, development, the hinterland, the justice system and a host of other pressing needs remain uncompleted from one year to the next and one generation to the next.

However, criticism of the past performance of others should not deflect from, nor excuse our own failures in the civic sector to engage more effectively and consistently in governance processes in our local communities and at the national level.

A first step in correcting this malaise, therefore, is directed to civic, religious, professional, philanthropic, community-based, trade union and cultural organisations to assume greater responsibility for the quality of democracy, development and well-being of our own society. Following this commitment, a process of full consultation among all signatories on the way forward will be set in train. This commitment is inspired by Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution which states:

“The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

While committing our organizations to encourage the peaceful resolution of the up-coming election, we do so in a spirit of making it the last to be held under a political and electoral system so demeaning and undignified.

African Cultural Development Association, Airy Hall Development Group E'bo, Amerindian Peoples Association, Anglican Church in Guyana, Ann's Grove Development Committee ECD, Ann's Grove Football Team #2 ECD, Ann's Grove Line Star United Football Club Britannia Jamaat ECD, Church Women United -EBD, Church Women United - Guyana Community Based Rehab-EBD, Common Ground

Cullen Women & Youth Development, E'bo, DeWillem Community Council ECD, Guyana Association for the Visually Impaired, Ebenezer Youth Fellowship WCD, General Workers Union, Guyana Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Guyana Citizens Initiative, Guyana Human Rights Association, Guyana Council of Churches, Guyana Trades Union Congress, Help & Shelter, National AIDS Committee

Pomona Women & Youth Reaching Out, E'bo, Red Thread, Rights of Children (ROC), Spring Garden Mandir, E'bo, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, St. Ann's Orphanage, Sunflower Women & Youth Group, Essequibo, Station Road Tuschen Jamaat WCD, Two Friends Dutch Four Community Group, Tuschen Old Road Jamaat WCD

Uitvlugt Ocean View Jamaat WCD, Uitvlugt Pasture Jamaat WCD, Ursuline Sisters in Guyana, Vilvoorden Women's Group E'bo

YMCA - Albouystown, Zeeburg Jamaat E'bo

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SASOD joins call to revamp Standford 202/20 Song featuring Beenie Man

Kingston, Jamaica – 25 July 2006 - The recently rejuvenated Caribbean Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (C-FLAG) is greatly disturbed by a recent development in the region which has made notoriously homophobic dancehall artiste Beenie Man one of the performers of the official anthem of the Stanford 20/20 Tournament sponsored by Texas Billionaire Allen Stanford – owner of Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun Airlines and organised by Kelly Holding Ltd. According to a Stanford 20/20 press release, the song will be played on radio stations across the Caribbean region and at every match during the tournament.

Stanford 20/20 is being promoted as unifying the Caribbean and being the new vision for West Indies cricket yet the decision to select Beenie Man seems extremely short sighted in the least, given the singer’s history of promoting intolerance and violence against lesbians and gays in his musical lyrics. Not to mention, the threat this poses to the great reputation of West Indies cricket, which can easily be eroded internationally by the ill repute of Beenie Man for inciting hate and disunity on the basis of sexual identity. And, according to Stanford 20/0 promotional materials, several Caribbean cricketing legends have given their support to Beenie Man’s involvement in the project.

C-FLAG believes artistes chosen for such an instrumental purpose should not only possess talent in their particular musical genre but also an untarnished track record of promoting non-violence, tolerance, respect and love for all, regardless of sexual identity. There are many other talented dancehall artistes who embody these principles, some of whom have openly spoken out against homophobia.

Recently, in Jamaica, the private sector has taken an unprecedented stand against homophobia by …

C-FLAG strongly urges Allen Stanford and Kelly Holding Ltd. to take a stand against homophobia in the Caribbean by recalling the song from all radio stations and by discontinuing its play in original form as long as Beenie Man is featured in it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Critique of CARICOM Model Legislation on Sexual Offences

A SASOD First-Look at the CARICOM Model Legislation on Sexual Offences

The CARICOM Model Legislation on Sexual Offences was drafted between 1989 and 1991 as part of a series of Model Legislation on issues affecting women and adopted in 1991 by the CARICOM Ministers responsible for the Integration of Women in Development. According to the Explanatory Memorandum, it was agreed that the general approach to the legislation would be gender neutral. However, in many instances, this intended gender-neutral approach did not manifest itself in the drafting of the legislation.

First and foremost, clause 3 limits the definition of rape to male-to-female rape and does not include the rape of a man, which can be both anal and ‘vaginal’ in the case of a male-to-female transsexual with an artificial vagina (R v. Mathews (John) (1997) unreported, CC). The definition of rape must be widened to include male rape to break down the social stigma attached to the sexual molestation and victimization of young boys and men, which impedes male victims of rape from reporting this criminal offence.

Also in clause 3, the definition of rape expressly excludes marital rape, which has been established by English case law (R v. R (1991) 1 AC 599, HL), that is, given that “in today’s society, marriage is a partnership of equals” (per Lord Keith), a man can rape his wife. Given the public health dimension to rape compounded by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the definition of rape must include marital rape to protect wives who may have reason to believe that their husbands may have become infected with HIV and therefore wish to protect themselves from infection by abstaining from sexual intercourse. Clause 4(4), which only allows for the offence of unlawful sexual intercourse of a husband committed against his wife in cases of a legal intervention or agreement, is unacceptable, for the same reasons.

Under clause 7, the definition of incest is limited to sexual intercourse between brother and sister and does not include sexual connection (which is wider in meaning than sexual intercourse) between brother and brother and sister and sister.

According to clauses 8 to 10, the age of consent appears to be 14 years. It is recommended that the age of consent be 18 years to protect all children from sexual exploitation by adults and confirm to international standards for child rights and protection (Article 1, Convention on the Rights of the Child). Also, there should be a three-year differential, which does not attract criminal sanction, between children (under 18 years) and consenting adults so that under-age sexual activity is not criminalized.

Under clause 15(2), the offence of “gross indecency” infringes the right to equality and is discriminatory against same-sex consenting adults on the basis of sex, which has been defined by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) to include sexual orientation in Toonan v. Australia (Communication No. 488/1991). Further, public health considerations require that such offences be repealed; otherwise risk, behaviour is driven underground. In Toonan, the HRC found that the right to privacy was breached by laws that criminalize private homosexual acts between consenting adults, noting that:

“…the criminalization of homosexual practices cannot be considered a reasonable means or proportionate measure to achieve the aim of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS…by driving underground many of the people at risk of infection…[it] would appear to run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention.”

Clause 15(3) also infringes the basic human right to privacy under Article 17 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by criminalizing private sexual activity where more than two consenting adults take part or are present. Again, public health policy requires that such acts do not attract criminal sanction; otherwise, risk behaviour is driven underground.

In defining “gross indecency,” clause 15(4) refers to acts other than sexual intercourse “(whether natural or unnatural).” Such language is highly inappropriate in legislative drafting since the nature of any form of sexual activity is a subjective question of one’s own private morality.

Clause 16 crafts a separate and specific offence of “indecency between woman and girl,” which would not be necessary if the model legislation had really taken a gender-neutral approach, drafted on the basis of basic principles and international standards of human rights on equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, which includes sexual orientation. In effect, therefore, persons who are heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual are all protected from discrimination by international human rights.

In clause 17, the right to privacy is not respected for consenting opposite-sex adults who choose to engage in anal sex by criminalizing opposite-sex “sodomy.” This is also discriminatory against heterosexual persons on the grounds of sexual orientation.

To sum up, the Model Legislation suffers from the deficiency of not incorporating a gender-neutral approach to sexual offences. In addition, many progressive legal developments related to sexual offences, from which the Model Legislation was not able to benefit since its adoption, have occurred in 1991 and thereafter. It is recommended that the Model Legislation be updated with the latest legal developments related to sexual offences and revised in tandem with basic principles and international standards of human rights.

June, 2006

Joel Simpson, LLB.
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD)

Monday, June 19, 2006

From the Bermuda Sun
Dear Sir,

It is with great disappointment that we at the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Guyana learn of the failure of the Bermuda House of Assembly to debate the bill which would outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It is important to understand that the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation is a basic human right to which all are entitled equally, whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.

Irrefutably, non-heterosexuals have been stigmatized and discriminated against from time immemorial and therefore stand to benefit most from legal protection. This is lamented by no less a person than Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the foreword to the Amnesty International book, Sex, Love & Homophobia, in the following words: "Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God — and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are."

Archbishop Tutu has also linked homophobia to apartheid when he said that the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation is every bit as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid.

Archbishop Tutu puts it best in these words: "This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we can do nothing about — our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination which homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups. And I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights."

Human rights protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is often dismissed by the homophobes as a Western concern but the fact is that South Africa was the first country in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its post-apartheid constitution. South Africa has certainly learned from its apartheid experience that ignorance, intolerance and hate must be opposed in all its forms. Do we here in Caribbean need such a virulent struggle to teach us a lesson? Or will we simply learn from the past mistakes of others around the world? Further to this being an essential matter of basic human rights, what is even more alarming is that this is also a matter of public health concern and the Minister of Health, Patrice Minors, and other government backbenchers are reported as being against the bill. Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has eloquently reinforced that hatred against homosexuals is not only a threat to human rights but a threat to life itself.

In her words: "... homophobia contributes to the spread of HIV. Fear of being stigmatized often prevents homosexual men from seeking HIV testing, counselling, and treatment, with the result that they are less likely to adopt measures to protect themselves and others from the virus."

According to Sir George Alleyne, U. N. Secretary General's Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS to the Caribbean, homophobia is the major stumbling block to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region. Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, has also said that homophobia is one of the "best friends of HIV/AIDS" at the fifth Annual General Meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) held in Port-of-Spain in September of last year.

PAHO asserts that homophobia is of such grave concern in Latin America and the Caribbean that the governments of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia recently launched mass media campaigns against homophobia. In Argentina and Chile, this theme has been featured in poster campaigns and on television where the messages were well received. What is necessary to build a society of justice and tolerance? This bill gives Bermuda a valiant opportunity to put itself on the human-rights map with progressive legislation that guarantees equal rights for all.

We at SASOD stand in solidarity with Mrs Webb and the other supporters for non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in Bermuda. We call on the government of Bermuda to show sterling and unwiltering leadership and to oppose injustice in all its forms by re-introducing a bill which bans discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and to set an example to change the face of homophobia.

Joel Simpson


SASOD - Guyana

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Press Statement on Rule of Law - SASOD joins with CEN

Rule of law Under Threat in Guyana

A BATTLE is being played out between the institution which symbolizes law and order in Guyana, namely the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and criminal forces driving the drug enterprises which the government of the day appears unwilling to confront.

At stake is the most basic principle of Statehood, whether Guyana will continue to subscribe to the rule of law. The rule of law means the same rules govern all people. It is a precondition of a democratic state, and is designed to ensure that each person is protected from abuse of power, and that the presumption of innocence prevents any person being punished for false accusations or mistaken identity.

The continuing failure of the GPF or Joint Services operations either to quell violent crime – particularly in Indo-Guyanese communities - or indict drug traffickers has left the population sceptical, suspicious and scornful of the agencies responsible for law enforcement and the administration of justice.

This unhealthy situation encourages acceptance of cutting corners with respect to law enforcement and leaves people open to considering even more desperate measures. Moreover, the government reinforces such attitudes by ignoring drug criminals while condemning other types.

People currently voicing support for drug operations providing “protection” should thus think long and hard about the logical consequences for them, their families and communities.

Drug operations first and foremost protect their own illegal enterprises, and they will do this regardless of race or any other considerations. Everyone involved in the drug trade is breaking the laws of Guyana. They protect their illegitimate business by resorting to corruption and violence, safe in the knowledge that a blanket of fear prevents their victims from speaking out.

They will choose their targets, based on their own agenda. For all of these reasons, the only long-term guarantee of public safety is a reinvigorated and professional Guyana Police Force.

The following summary is drawn from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Report released in March 2006 and other sources, and reveals the degree to which Guyana has become enmeshed socially, politically and economically in international drug trafficking:

** 20-25 metric tons of cocaine pass through Guyana annually worth USD150M, yet no public cocaine seizure of more than 10 kilos was made in the last year.

** Drug mules (mainly women) are arrested on every North-bound route out of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

** U.S. Customs & Immigration have discovered cocaine concealed in every known export from Guyana.

** Drug barons have been granted timber concessions and duty-free privileges allowing them access to remote airstrips.

** Money-laundering legislation was resisted for several years.

** The commercial community is undermined by goods sold at impossibly low prices by drug-owned companies. Banks cannot compete with the informal, low interest loans made available to business persons.

** Guyana-based drug rings have been prosecuted in Barbados, the UK and the U.S.A, but no drug trafficker has been indicted in Guyana.

** A survey reported that 27% (almost 1 in 3) 11-19 year olds in Guyana have seen cocaine. The same survey reported 60% (almost 2 out of 3) children in Region One can identify the drug.

Over the past three months, Guyana has witnessed a growing campaign led by Roger Khan, allegedly a leading drug trafficker who has been indicted by a U.S. Grand Jury, to have the Commissioner of Police (CoP) removed from office. An official demand in recent days from Prime Minister Samuel Hinds that Commissioner of Police Winston Felix immediately respond to the contents of illegal tape-recordings of his private conversations moved the confrontation to a new level.

CoP Felix for his part has denied the voice on the tape to be his and asserted that never in his 36 years as a police officer had he conspired to frame anybody.

In April 2006 the first tape was circulated to all media houses purporting to be a recording of a telephone conversation between CoP Felix and a leading member of the major opposition party, the PNCR. While the tape was illegal and no one has claimed ownership, the voice on the tape is widely believed to be that of CoP Felix.

In late May a second tape surfaced, in which the person alleged to be CoP Felix appears to discuss planting drugs on a person to have her detained when she was leaving the country. If this were true it would have serious consequences for the rule of law in Guyana.

However, the timing of delivery of the tapes suggests that the motivation is not to protect Guyanese people, but to undermine CoP Felix because of the recent actions against drug operations.

To date the government has shown insufficient concern to investigate the source of the tapes and to encourage the person responsible to come forward so that the tapes can be verified, without which they can never be credible evidence.

The GPF inherited by CoP Felix in 2004 was riddled with political interference which respected no boundaries, a state of affairs which no doubt influenced a delay of almost two years in Felix assuming office after his original designation as CoP. The following excerpt from a Stabroek News Editorial (26 Sept. 2004) captures that malaise:

“Imagine a Jeopardy quiz programme, Guyana style: the clue is: this police official doesn’t follow the news; is unfamiliar with the name of an accused murderer, even when he has approved a gun licence for him only the month before; signs an upgraded firearm licence for the man after he has committed murder because he doesn’t know he has committed murder; believes that taxi-drivers should qualify to carry 9mm weapons; doesn’t know which police officers have been assigned to investigate which murder cases; is too busy to question the system of issuing gun licences; did not investigate reports of phone records between the Minister and a man accused of murder because he is uncertain of their legality;… and cannot pay attention to all drive-by killings…As citizens of Guyana followed the extraordinary performance by former COP Floyd McDonald (ag) a single question must have crossed their collective minds: just who is in charge of the police force during his tenure, because it surely wasn’t him…”

CoP Felix came into office determined to rehabilitate the GPF and to eliminate rogue elements, such as the ‘black clothes’ squad elements, and has placed hundreds of officers and ranks on charges before the courts. His assumption of office brought an immediate end to the unrestrained political interference which characterized his predecessor’s reign.

The government media has pursued a campaign to undermine CoP Felix, claimed widespread loss of public confidence, publicized calls for his resignation by the Private Sector Commission, highlighted the exact date of the end of his term in office and even suggested he may go before that date because of accumulated leave.

Roger Khan claimed in a full-page ad on May 12, 2006 that “During the crime spree in 2002, I worked closely with the crime-fighting section of the Guyana Police Force and provided them with assistance and information at my own expense. My participation was instrumental in curbing crime during this period.”

To date the government has shown no interest in investigating these claims. The period Khan refers to was one in which the bodies of many young men, mainly Afro-Guyanese, were found dead.

This taste of ‘phantom’ justice illustrated what is to be expected when the rule of law is set aside for vigilante justice. This approach to crime-fighting eventually forced the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs. It is logical that were it to be prolonged it could consume the government itself.

Once the elements responsible for criminalising the economy are allowed to assume crime-fighting roles, the rule of law is decisively undermined. Vigilante forces cannot be controlled and in the long-term no one is safe.

All citizens have a right to presumption of innocence and a fair trial. That right obliges (and protects) the rest of the society from reducing themselves to equally inhuman status by resolving crimes outside of a fair trial framework.

1. Government leaders should balance their attention to the CoP with a more vigorous focus on the enormous illegality generated by drug traffickers.

2. Until any allegations are proven, CoP Felix should be allowed to continue his efforts to re-constitute the GPF as a professional institution free from political interference, corruption, and capable of effective crime-fighting.

3. External assistance to revitalize and reinvigorate the GPF is essential and urgently needed to tackle both violent crime and the drug trade.

4. The private sector and the government should develop a joint strategy for a transition from a drug-fuelled to a legal economy.

5. Civil society organisations, having lapsed into an extraordinary silence during this criminalizing of the society, must find its voice and assert its social responsibilities.

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