GTU/SASOD Photo-Exhibition Launch
by Mr. Derek Lambe, Chargé d' Affaires for the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and for the Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories
31 March 2014
Dr Shanti Singh, Ms Twinkle, Ms Ulelli Verbeke, members of SASOD and Guyana Trans United, colleagues from the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure to be here on International Transgender Day of Visibility for the launch of the week-long "Stand Against Transphobia" Photo-Exhibition.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is celebrated all over the world every year, and celebrates the lives of transgender persons. The day is also used to raise awareness of issues of discrimination that they often encounter.
For the European Union, human rights and fundamental freedoms are the "silver thread" running through our actions both at home and in our external relations. The EU's position is that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons are protected under existing international human rights law, and that transgender, and LGBI, persons have the same rights as all other individuals — no new human rights are created for them; but neither should any be denied to them.
The EU, similarly to the United Nations, is committed to the principle of the universality of human rights and reaffirms that cultural, traditional or religious values do not justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against transgender and LGBI persons.
To be more specific: when speaking about the rights of transgender or LGBTI persons, we’ve always made it clear that it is not about introducing new or different rights for one group of people. It is about the same human rights being applied to every person everywhere without discrimination.
These rights include: equality before the law, right to privacy, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, right to work and the right to health.
The European Union therefore encourages the Government of Guyana to repeal the laws criminalising same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing. We fully support SASOD and Guyana Trans United in their efforts in this area.
The EU demonstrates its support for LGBTI issues in relations with the Government, in public statements, in international fora, and also in providing funding to assist civil society organisations. The European Union Delegation in Guyana is proud to have been able to provide funding to the Equal Rights Trust and SASOD to support them in their efforts to combat discrimination and to advocate for legal reform and to address societal prejudice.
As well as raising awareness of the problems transgender persons face, one of the reasons for the Trans Day of Visibility is also to focus on all the good things in the trans community. This has been done beautifully in this excellent photographic exhibition, which gives a face to transgender Guyanese persons, both literally and symbolically. I congratulate Guyana Trans United and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).