GEORGETOWN – At a Media Workshop on Coverage of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Issues in Guyana, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hardt underscored that human rights are for all human beings, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. While expressing appreciation for religious and cultural sensitivities about LGBT issues, the Ambassador said it is “long past time to put our shared belief in the universality of human rights into action: into new laws and a new spirit of respect and solidarity for our fellow citizens.” He emphasized that gay rights are human rights, and pointed out that throughout history, "those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights have been and remain on the right side of history," while those who have sought to restrict human rights were on the wrong side." Noting the "profound shift in global understanding of such rights" in recent years, he encouraged participants to be on the “right side of history” and put belief of the universality of human rights into action. The Ambassador welcomed the opportunity to meet with SASOD and media representatives to "discuss the way forward to a stronger local, national, and international consensus that full recognizes and respects the rights of LGBT citizens."
Dr. Roberto Brant Campos, Country Representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) also supported the call to ensure that human rights protections encompass LGBT persons and he encouraged revisions to Guyana's laws to ensure broader societal acceptance of the LGBT community.
The April 14 workshop was organized by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and the Equal Rights Trust (ERT) with support from the European Union (EU), through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and the United States Embassy.
During the Media Workshop, participants learned about the current legal framework relating to LGBT persons in Guyana, focusing on Guyana’s laws and the status of the Parliamentary Select Committee’s consultations on issues related to matters of law reform on sexual orientation and gender identity.
SASOD representative Zenita Nicholson explained to participants how the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process works and where Guyana currently stands within that process. Members of the media had frank discussions on society’s perceptions and stereotypes of LGBT persons. The workshop’s facilitator Karen Davis reviewed correct terminology for reporting on LGBT issues. As part of the workshop, participants analyzed articles, headlines, photographs, and video on LGBT issues from Guyanese media sources, highlighting the importance of fair and balanced reporting.
Under President Obama's leadership, the United States has moved with increasing vigor to defend the human rights of LGBT people in the United States and worldwide as part of its domestic commitment to equality, comprehensive human rights advocacy, and broader foreign policy. U.S. embassies around the world are working to raise concerns about specific cases where human rights have been violated and laws continue to discriminate. The U.S. Embassy in Guyana will continue to work closely with LGBT human rights defenders and civil society groups to promote universal rights for all people.
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