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"

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