Monday, December 31, 2007

Submission made on the reform of the sexual offences legislation

STAMP IT OUT” Strengthening protection against sexual violence and reforming the law on sexual offences
Comments and recommendations from the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

1. The Ministry of Human Services, Labour and Social Security has embarked on a consultation on the reform of the legislation pertaining to sexual offences in Guyana.
Proposals for reform are located in a consultation paper called “Stamp It Out: Strengthening
Protection against Sexual Violence and Reforming the Law on Sexual Offences.”

2. The Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is a non-governmental organisation based in Guyana. In 2006, the Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination had joined with other civil society organisations across the country and individuals to call for the reforms which are expanded in the consultation paper.

3. SASOD therefore endorses the spirit of the recommendations which are in the document and summarised in Annex 2 of the document. There are concerns about aspects of the reform and proposals are made to deal with these issues in this submission. These proposals are grouped under these headings :-
A) Establishing the Age of Consent as 18 years
B) Decriminalising of consensual same-sex activity in private
C) Eliminating stigma of male victims of rape
D) Enforcement of the reformed legislation

A) Establish the Age of Consent as 18 years for both females and males
The proposals for Age of Consent are discussed in para. 87 and other places of the document.
SASOD believes that the age of consent should be raised to 18 years for both males and females and furthermore, that there should not be any criminalising of sexual activity between young persons with a three year difference in ages when either party is above the age of consent.
SASOD had joined with the Age of Consent Coalition in 2005 and the following points were made:

• Age of consent legislation has always been about the age at which children can enter consenting sexual connections with adults. It is not about the age at which adolescents should initiate sexual activity.

• Raising the age of consent is a measure to increase protection, particularly of girls, to predatory approaches by adults, usually men, whether these are exploiting poverty, manipulating immaturity or adults trafficking under-age girls.

For all the reasons listed below, the organizations in the Age of Consent Coalition, which deliberated on three occasions, agreed to raise the age to 18 years which is recognized as the point at which the children reach the age of majority.

In order to avoid the application of penalties proposed for sexual predators to consenting under-age teen-agers, SASOD further proposes that sexual connections between young people within a three- year age range of each other should not be liable to criminal penalties. This should also include when one person is over the age of consent.

Any interventions required by the State as a result of such activity should be of a welfare or probation character. Like under-age smoking or drinking, under-age sexual activity should be discouraged but not criminalized. With this proviso there is no sound argument for not raising the age of consent as high as possible.

Summary Arguments In Support Of Raising AOC to 18 Years

  • 18 conforms to the Convention on the Rights of The Child definition which the Guyana courts must now take into account following the constitutional reform (Art.154)
  • 18 makes a clear distinction between adulthood and childhood
  • 18 is the age of majority for other decisions of responsibility – right to vote, dispose of property, obtain passport. Public health benefits with respect to the prevention HIV, other STIs and teen-age pregnancy from encouraging delayed sexual.activities
  • Protection against physical and emotional health consequences for children
  • Deterrence of the commercial sexual exploitation of children
B) Decriminalise consensual same-sex activity in private

4. SASOD notes that in reforming the laws on sexual offences, the Ministry of Human Services proposes not to discuss consensual same sex activity. The Ministry proposes to retain s. 351 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Cap. 8:01 as it is presently constructed.

5.The continued presence of s. 351 in its present construction is a violation of the human rights to privacy, equality, non-discrimination and health. In Toonan v. Australia1, the UN Human Rights Committee found that the right to privacy under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Guyana has signed, ratified and directly incorporated into our Constitution, was breached by laws which criminalise private homosexual acts between consenting adults, noting that:

“… the criminalisation 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.

6. The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of International Human Rights Law to issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.3 These principles were developed by a group of international human rights experts convened by the International Service for Human Rights and the International Commission for Jursists. Principle 6 on the right to privacy recommends that States shall:

“Repeal all laws that criminalise consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent, and ensure that an equal age of consent applies to both same-sex and different-sex sexual activity.”

By denying a natural expression of human sexuality, criminalisation of consensual activity between adult men in private under s. 351 demoralises gay and bisexual men and robs them of their dignity and self-respect.

7. The reluctance of the Government to urgently deal with the s351 in this reform panders to homophobia and heterosexism in Guyana which are rooted in colonialism and based on constructions of masculinity and femininity which subordinate women and exclude and persecute homosexuals. Homophobia and the misogyny which fuels sexual violence against women and girls are inextricably linked and s. 351 offers a space in the law to locate those anti-social prejudices which contravene human rights protections for all citizens of Guyana.

8. Homophobia is often based on fear of the male being perceived as feminine and male rapists often use rape of women to reinforce perceptions of aggressive, heterosexual masculinity, while in some cases of male-male rape, the act of raping is concurrent with a perception of the 'feminising' of the male victim. Hegemonic masculinity is enforced by condemning homosexuals who are viewed as transgressing gender norms and through the possession, and objectification of women. The outcome is that ‘real men’ oppose homosexual men, abuse, rape, and neglect women in order to prove their masculinity. In this way, homophobia can be considered as an effort to maintain the bipolar system through which women are devalued.1 Homophobia therefore affects all men, and not just gay men, and is rightfully viewed as a gender prejudice more than a sexual one, which it is generally assumed to be.2

9. Popular culture is replete with examples which reinforce these anti-social prejudices. For instance, dancehall artist Beenie Man, in his song, “Weeping and Moaning” preaches the following to his listeners: “You nuh see pressure man a get outa man/ Every nite Peter him wine pun Devon/ Hold hotty-boy and bun(burn) dem one by one/ Look pon Patsy, Suzette and Yvonne/ Look how de gal-dem sexy and tan/ I charge fi’ rape Suzanne/ More than go a prison/ Fi’ wind pon Jonathan.” Feminist researcher, Tara Alturi assesses Beenie Man’s disturbingly-clear message, which should concern all policy-makers and state-managers seeking to eliminate sexual violence:

“In order to proclaim heterosexual masculinity, in order to protect himself from falling prey to homosexuality, the character/singer performs masculinity by objectifying, demeaning and in its most brutal form raping women. This is a perfect example of the way in which homophobia enforces a reiteration of masculine hegemony in expressions of sexual violence against women.”3

10. Statutes criminalising sexual activity between consenting adult men in private, even though they may not be enforced, their continued existence and threat of enforcement legitimizes stigmatization of homosexuals and this can undermine the response to HIV and AIDS. According to the National Assessment on HIV/AIDS Law, Ethics and Human Rights in Guyana prepared by Arif Bulkan, “criminalisation encourages secrecy, which in turn prevents the exchange of information. Whereas heterosexual young men and women freely discuss heterosexual practices and may learn about safe behaviours, such opportunities are lost in relation to homosexual behaviour.”1

11. Bulkan also admonishes that the constant threat of enforcement can be used to persecute marginalised communities of men who practise same-sex desire in Guyana. Renowned regional sociologist Dr. Robert Carr documents the experience of gay Jamaican communities in his work on ‘judgements,’ where high levels of violence, particularly against working class gay men – are
meted out by members of their families and communities and tolerated, even encouraged, by the police and government. According to Carr, “The [Jamaican] security forces, according to the informant’s testimonials, interpret the laws banning sodomy to mean the identity itself is illegal. The law thus becomes an umbrella under which they feel free to harass, single out, and threaten men they perceive to be gay or who state that they are gay.”1 Carr notes that the influence of dancehall culture cultivating avenues of sanctioned violence has emerged from Jamaican ghettoes and penetrated other countries in the region. He continues: “The violence described here in working class Jamaica is thus becoming embedded in regional culture and in the psyches of other countries.”2 Bulkan warns that “even though similar levels of violence do not exist in Guyana, instances of homophobic violence are not unheard of and it is therefore important to confront this phenomenon before it takes hold.”3 Bulkan’s caveat is instructive and should be cause for urgent concern to state-managers seeking to curb gender-related violence.

12. Although s. 351 in relation to consensual, sexual behaviour in private may not be presently enforced, it is unhealthy to keep laws which are routinely violated on the statute books for this breeds disrespect for authority and is generally inimical to the rule of law and good governance.

C) Eliminating stigma of male victims of rape

13 .Part of the stigma for male victims of rape stems from the fact that the law in Guyana stigmatises consensual sexual activity between men in private. Male victims of rape are often stigmatised by society and themselves as objects of a ‘homosexual attack.’ While the gender-neutral definition of rape is commendable and welcomed as part of the reforms needed, the utility of the proposed reform is severely undermined by the very existence of s. 351 on the statute books which reduces same-sex practising men to unapprehended criminals in Guyana. As Caribbean gender law scholar Tracy Robinson states, “in this heterosexist paradigm, the sexual violation men experience by other men ranks no different from consensual sex between men – they are both categorised as perversion – and therefore the former does not feature as a serious social issue, and rape by men as a distinctive feature of women’s lives is slowly neutered.”4

14. Police procedures should recognise the particular social and cultural environment which would limit male victims of rape in the prosecution of rapists. Male victims of rape have special needs which must be addressed.

15. Male victims of rape have reported visible signs of arousal and even involuntary ejaculation during rape. These bodily responses are noted as being physiological and sometimes and involuntary response to the pressure on the prostate gland. Some rapists also force their victims to ejaculate so as to reinforce the perception that ejaculation means an orgasm.5 Consent shall not be inferred from these responses. There must be provisions which are clear that 'signs' of arousal or ejaculation should not be introduced as consent from any victim.

16.The sexual orientation of male victims of rape should not be brought into any case as a reason for the defence of rapists.

D) Enforcement of the legislation

SASOD is concerned that there are no provisions to ensure that the legislation when passed, is enforced. The framework for the proposed reforms is comprehensive, and will require political will to acquire the resources at Ministerial and Judicial levels especially. There must be a committment to ensuring that all provisions are adhered to and that all systems are put in place to ensure that there is protection from sexual violence.


Atluri,Tara, “When the Closet is a Region: Homophobia, Heterosexism and Nationalism in the Commonwealth Caribbean,” Working Paper No. 5, Centre for Gender and Development Studies, UWI Cave Hill, 2001.

Bulkan, Arif. “National Assessment on HIV/AIDS, Law, Ethics and Human Rights in Guyana,” National AIDS Committee, 2004.

Carr, Robert. “On ‘Judgements’: Poverty, Sexuality-based Violence and Human Rights in 21st Century Jamaica,” Caribbean Journal of Social Work, Vol. 2 (2003)

Groth, Nicolas A et al, “Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender”, 2001

Plummer, David and Simpson, Joel. “HIV-AIDS and Caribbean Masculinities” in Financing Gender Equality; Commonwealth Perspectives 2007.

Robinson, Tracy.“Fictions of Citizenship: Bodies without Sex and Effacement of Gender in Law” (1999) 7 Small Axe 1

Toonan v. Australia. Communication No. 488/1991. Official Records of the General Assembly, 49th Session, Supplement No. 40 (A/49/40), vol. II, annex IX EE.

Official Website of Yogyakarta Principles:

30 December, 2007 – corrected 2 January, 2007
Prepared and submitted by: Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reports on SASOD's presentation to Human Rights Day Symposium held on 10 December, 2007

His report is from Kaieteur News of 14 December, 2007
Homophobic lyrics infringe on right to life
Danielle Campbell
Homophobic lyrics belted out by Jamaican artistes, who are noted for their extremely anti-gay stance, has been described as an infringement on a fundamental human right to life.
This is according to a SASOD Representative who was making a presentation at the Human Rights Symposium held at City Hall on Monday.
The forum was in observance of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and was held under the theme, “What Difference Has It Made?”
The representative said that though persons hold varying theories on the issue of sexuality, living with diversity is one of the truest spirits of human rights.
He stated that SASOD’s work is premised on the view that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” as guaranteed under Article (1) of the UDHR.
He stressed that since homophobic lyrics calls for the killing and maiming of gays, then it is an infringement of their fundamental rights to life.
“Article (4) of the UDHR guarantees the right to life yet in minibuses and at State-owned venues, Jamaican artistes and Guyanese deejays are allowed to whip up frenzy to “Bun batty man”, a reference they claim to their biblical teachings.
“One CD has a DJ who intersperses his ‘bigging’ up of Carib Beer and GiftLand with calls to ‘kill all chichi man’,” the representative said.
He observed that many private sector entities sponsor events where deejays and artistes violate human rights of gay people by calling for their destruction.
“The private sector – GT&T, Digicel, Buddy’s, Ansa McAl, others, have no problem supporting these calls to kill homosexual people, not only in music but on the internet…,” the SASOD member noted.
A recent discussion thread on the website “” was seen with the heading, ‘Should gays be allowed to live?'.”
The discussion on that Guyana Palace forum has shown a range of opinions including one person’s confusion.
That person said, “Can the name of this thread be changed somewhat so as not to make it seem that anyone who disagrees with homosexuality is not frowned upon as someone who wants to ‘kill’ homosexuals? The name of this thread is just too distasteful in my opinion.”
According to SASOD, the name was later changed to “Homosexuality”.
He pointed out that it is possible to request of some minibus operators to change the music from those calling on listeners to kill homosexuals.
“I urge those of you who use minibuses to try that. While all of us here will speak on the rights we expect, all of us also have duties towards those who for one reason or another cannot achieve their full potential in our society.
“We all have an obligation towards each other to ensure that our common humanity is nurtured.”
The SASOD representative remarked that true human rights can only be achieved when the State disallows teachers to beat students, when domestic violence is given the same urgency as other crimes, when HIV positive persons are accepted for employment; when disabled persons are assured decent work, when drug kingpins are caught instead of the poor who carry small portions of drugs, when there are economic and fiscal policies which ensure a decent quality of life, and when democracy becomes fully inclusive and participatory at all levels.
The right to privacy secured under (Article 10) is denied by Section 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act which seeks to criminalise sexual activity between consenting male adults and which is preserved as an offence like rape.
The right to work in (Article 23) is the most affected among the economic rights as many persons in Guyana are discriminated against in employment because of their perceived sexual orientation, and are too scared to raise these issues in the public domain for fear of further victimisation.
According to SASOD, in March, the Ministry of Health, the Guyana Teachers’ Union and the National AIDS Programme Secretariat posited a moot for a debate entitled “Teachers who are homosexual/lesbian should not be allowed to teach”.
He questioned whether teachers are discriminated against due to any other factor including their gender, ethnicity, religion or otherwise.
The SASOD representative argued that the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being is also at conflict with discriminatory practices within the healthcare system where for example, specific HIV interventions with men who have sex with men are driven underground.
He detailed that the right to equal protection of the law without any discrimination is denied by omitting sexual orientation from Article 149 of the Constitution.
“We lost the opportunity in 2001 and then 2003 to improve our human rights legislation when the President and the Parliament succumbed to the homophobia of sections of the Christian and Muslim communities rather than side with the calls for reason and tolerance articulated by other sections of the religious community and civil society,” the SASOD representative detailed.
In November 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles were presented to the United Nations. The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of International Human Rights Law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.
They were developed by a group of human rights experts including judges, academics and a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Article (1) asserts that people are endowed with reason and conscience, and should therefore act towards each other in a spirit of brotherhood.
“Let us then commit to education, frank, and open dialogue and to listen to each other… SASOD salutes those individuals and organisations whose work epitomises that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” the Representative stated.

The text was also full printed in Dayclean , Vol 1 No 5 of 14 December, 2007.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Towards a more open, more tolerant Caribbean

Steering Committee: M Kleinmoedig, C Mc Ewan, C Orozco, C Robinson, J Simpson et al.
PO Box 1750, 92A Wrightson Rd., Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
+1-868-463-5599; +1-868-752-8517 •

December 11, 2007

To the Editor:

Towards a more open, more tolerant Caribbean

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons have been among the most productive citizens of the Caribbean. Although our place has often gone unrecognised and our status as moral citizens denied, we continue to contribute to the project of building a Caribbean where the equal and inalienable rights of all persons, whatever their social or economic status, are recognised and protected. As the world pauses this week to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the many individuals and organisations across the region who belong to the Caribbean Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (C-FLAG) are urging Caribbean citizens to reflect on the need to foster a culture of rights in the region that values diversity. There have been clear signs of progress in this regard during 2007.

A sign of hope that our culture of openness, tolerance and hospitality is alive and well is the recent declaration by the Grenadian government, in the context of a controversy over whether it would welcome gay visitors to the country, that “Grenada is a member of the United Nations community and is party to the various Conventions on the respect for and preservation of human rights and non-discrimination” and as such “respects the rights of all persons of all persuasions and lifestyles.” The government added that it would enforce indecency laws in ways “directed at all persons” that would not “target any specific group.” Similarly, by pulling the plug on a concert planned for the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies in September featuring artiste ‘Dr. Evil’ who sings about shooting gay men, the institution’s administration showed its commitment to protecting sexual minorities from the threat of violence. As the Guyanese Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination stated, the response of the university debunked “the prevailing idea that homophobia is an acceptable cultural norm in the Caribbean.”
Nevertheless, if signs that the Caribbean is not defined by homophobia could be seen throughout the year, 2007 was also marked by significant events that indicate that the region has a long way to go in ridding itself of tendencies that violate the rights of all who reside at its margins. A series of public beatings across Jamaica of men perceived to be gay demonstrated the depth of the crisis that socially sanctioned homophobia creates. It took much hand-wringing and soul-searching to bring even church leaders to publicly admit that socially-sanctioned violence against any group, including lesbians and gays, should be anathema to right-thinking citizens.

The profound challenge of how we deal with issues of same sex relationships and their place within Caribbean society was demonstrated by the ban by the Jamaican Minister of Education of a secondary school textbook that mentioned same sex couples as possibly constituting a family and another that mentioned the debate about the social legitimacy of same sex desire. Justified on the grounds that same sex desire was against the cultural values of the country and supposedly illegal, the move suggested that the educational system was not permitted to engage students in reflection on the justification of legal or social sanction of particular questions. This startling censorship of thought and debate signals how much democracy we are willing to risk to ensure that even the concept of discourse around changing laws criminalising homosexuality is not countenanced.

Our vision of equality and a culture of rights cannot be achieved in a context where the purveyors of our popular music celebrate, with impunity, the killing and maiming of citizens and defend such articulations of hate by pointing to ‘Caribbean’ religious and cultural values. Reneging on pledges by his management that he had moved on from his 1992 hit, ‘Boom Bye-Bye’, Buju Banton in October belted out lines from the graphically violent anti-gay song at the Guyana Music Festival. An editorial in the Guyana Chronicle the day following the performance declared that while the violence in the song was to be condemned, Buju’s last minute performance of the piece might have been “understandable within the context of attempts made to have him banned from performing” in Guyana and those fighting homophobia failed to recognise that their actions constituted “an assault on the majority’s most sacred values.” Journalist Ian Boyne, himself no defender of the rights of lesbians and gays, points to the inherent dangers of promoting the killing of citizens as a cultural value. He urges Christians to “disassociate themselves from the deejays who promote violence in the name of defending the Bible … a gross perversion of the Bible, of the sort used by slave owners and assorted oppressors.”

Another challenge to realising our vision is the continued view that the discourse on gay rights is an import into the region and that protests against homophobic violence constitute attempts from the Global North to silence authentic Caribbean voices denouncing practices alien to the region. In fact the entry of voices from the Global North into the debate is, ironically, the result of a failure on the part of local media, faith-based and cultural organisations to engage various local gay rights groups in a true spirit of dialogue. The irony of the situation is doubled when groups that seek to preserve the so-called right of Caribbean peoples to their moral and cultural values are supported and coached by conservative North American Evangelical organisations such as Canada’s Christian Legal Fellowship.
C-FLAG partners across the region call for a new commitment from all sectors of society, including faith-based organisations and the media, to further the vision of a Caribbean where freedom, justice and peace prevail. Without this commitment, the region will remain a place where, to quote Buju, “those who can run, will run.” As he recognises, some of us can’t; others of us are determined not to.

Signed by,
Caribbean Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

SASOD Statement for International Human Rights Day 2007

International Human Rights Day 2007 is the start of
the year to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). SASOD,
Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination,
advocates that discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation and gender identity is the violation of
human rights.

The right to equal protection of the law without any
discrimination (Article 7 of the UDHR) is denied by
omitting sexual orientation from Article 149 of our
constitution and anti-discrimination laws. The right
to privacy (Article 10 of the UDHR) is denied by the
existence of s. 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences)
Act Cap. 8: 01 which seeks to criminalize sexual
activity between consenting male adults. The right to
work (Article 23 of the UDHR) is the most affected
among the economic rights as many lesbians, gays and
bisexuals in Guyana are being fired or discriminated
against in employment policies and practices because
of their perceived sexual orientation and are too
scared to raise these issues in the public domain for
fear of further victimisation The right to a standard
of living adequate for health and well-being including
medical care and necessary social services (Article 25
of the UDHR) is at conflict with discriminatory
policies and practices within the healthcare system.

Internationally, progress has been made to recognise
that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons
are part of the humanity which is assured of dignity
and justice. The Yogyakarta Principles were
unanimously adopted in November 2006 and presented to
the United Nations in November 2007. The Yogyakarta
Principles are a set of principles on the application
of international human rights law in relation to
sexual orientation and gender identity. Many countries
are repealing their discriminatory laws and some
Caribbean leaders – most recently Grenada's Minister
of Tourism - have started to recognise that the
homophobia in the Caribbean has to change.

We believe that full human rights will also be
achieved in Guyana when the state does not allow
teachers to beat children in schools; when HIV
positive persons are not rejected for employment; when
disabled persons are assured of decent work and
livelihoods, when there are economic and fiscal
policies which ensure a decent quality of life for all
citizens; and when our democracy becomes fully
inclusive and participatory at all levels.

SASOD also recognises that as human beings, we are not
only bundles of rights, but also we have an d
obligation towards each other to ensure that our
humanity is nurtured. While we are beneficiaries of
rights, we also have duties towards those who for one
reason or another cannot achieve their full potential
in our society. SASOD salutes those individuals and
organisations in Guyana who have worked to eliminate
prejudices and discrimination at all levels; and who
subscribe to the believe that "the inherent dignity
and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of
the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day Statement 2007

This December 1st, around the globe, we commemorate together the 20th World AIDS Day by focusing on ‘leadership’, which is required in strong and unyielding fashion if we are to reverse the spread of the epidemic. Guyanese civil society organizations have taken leadership in responding to the epidemic at the community level. Government leadership, especially in ensuring legal protection for people made vulnerable by HIV, is critically needed.

In Guyana, structural stigma and discrimination, especially homophobia, are a major area where such leadership is needed.

Guyana joined with other states last year to commit at the highest inter-governmental level at the UN General Assembly to the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS 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, in particular to ensure their access to… legal protection…”

It is not who they are that put gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) at risk for HIV. It is the political, legal, economic, social, cultural forms of marginalisation and exclusion that make MSM vulnerable. Stigma and discrimination continue to undermine our efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Criminalisation of sexual activity conducted between consenting, adult men in private reinforces the perpetuation of homophobia at all levels of society, and drives this vulnerable group away from the information and education that is necessary to save their lives and the lives of their partners.

When asked what the government can do to address these structural issues, we at SASOD respond: decriminalize consensual, sexual activity between adult men in private. This will send a strong message across the country that we are serious when we say we respect
people’s human rights to privacy, non-discrimination and health. AIDS rhetoric from politicians and public officials on MSM issues is not enough. It is time for the government to take leadership actions now.

This year, SASOD, with support from the Government of Guyana/World Bank Guyana AIDS Prevention and Control Project is implementing Spectrum Health Net, an Internet based-project to provide comprehensive and holistic education across the spectrum of human
sexuality, with a special focus on MSM. While specific interventions are necessary and indicate some recognition of the vulnerability of the groups, SASOD has recognised that these types of interventions are more costly and difficult when there is an atmosphere of

We therefore call on the Government to fulfill their committment made in 2006 so as to increase the effectiveness of all interventions to reduce the impact of the HIV epidemic.