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inherent in the colonial laws which have been repealed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 .