President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Mr. Vishnu Doerga made a call for the government to amend the 1997 Prevention of Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation, gender identity and health status as grounds for non-discrimination in employment; he made this call while addressing an audience at the seventh national AIDS Candlelight Memorial Vigil hosted by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Sunday evening at the Catholic Life Centre, Brickdam.
The Chamber President spoke about the importance of engaging people, communities, governments, donors and the private sector in ending the epidemic and to also support those living with the HIV virus, “We must seek to empower people living with HIV to stand up for their right to live a life free of stigma and discrimination. In this regard, it is important for us to ensure that our organisations are free from stigma and discrimination through workplace programmes for our staff.”
Doerga noted that engaging, educating and empowering people living with HIV and marginalized populations is a critical enabler for attaining Guyana’s human rights goals and enhanced equity for all our people, he believes that the private sector can play a pivotal role in achieving this, and limiting the spread of HIV. An important avenue to ensure that this happens is through workplace education he said, “We have a responsibility to educate the current and next generation about HIV prevention, treatment and care, and how it affects our lives. Employers have a moral responsibility to ensure that employees are educated and have access to relevant information and resources.”
According to Doerga, Stigma and discrimination are barriers to accessing services for key populations. He noted that there is urgent need to end stigma, discrimination and human rights violations affecting people living with HIV and key populations such as sexual and gender minorities, sex workers and young people.
With dwindling resources to continuously address HIV in Guyana, he said the private sector as a key stakeholder must take up the reins and contribute to supporting workplace education programmes. “As the HIV response moves to long-term sustainability in Guyana, private sector involvement is crucial. I pledge the support of GCCI to join hands with all of you here in national efforts to bring an end to AIDS in Guyana.”
This local event was held to commemorate the 33rd International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. The vigil brings together affected communities, policy makers, health professionals, religious leaders and members of the public to show solidarity and support for persons infected and affected by HIV; to encourage people to continue to act together, and to call on the public to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, and key affected populations.
To read Doerga's full remarks, click here.