Thursday, May 18, 2017

IDAHOT Remarks from Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, M.P.

It is my pleasure to join the European Union delegation and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) at this reception to mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Unfortunately, the Honourable Prime Minister could not be here but he sent his regards and best wishes for a successful event. I’m pleased to represent him on this occasion.

 Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, M.P. (Neketa Forde Photo)

International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is observed on May 17 to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide.
The Government of Guyana strongly believes that “no person should be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, since everyone has a right to work, pension and gratuity”.

More specifically, the Ministry of Social Cohesion embraces and advocates tolerance and unity for all Guyanese. Our mission is to support actions that strengthen key partnerships across sectors, facilitate bridging gaps within and across communities and contribute to socio economic, cultural, spiritual well-being and enriched livelihoods for all.

It must be pointed out that not only does the ministry advocate for inclusion, but it practices it as well.

Just last week, I presented to our Honourable Prime Minister, a copy of the completed five year Strategic Plan for Promoting and enhancing Social Cohesion in Guyana. 

This plan was developed as a result of an inclusive and participatory process which in a large way included SASOD - a member of the Ministry of Social Cohesion’s peer group.

The peer group was responsible for designing and guiding the citizens’ consultation process for the formulation of the Ministry’s strategic plan. SASOD remains a stakeholder in fostering Social Cohesion in Guyana.

No Guyanese, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity should be excluded from contributing to the development of our country. Exclusion on any basis will only result in detriment to Guyana.

The Ministry of Social Cohesion has been working in communities across the length and breadth of the country to educate our people about our diversity and inclusion.

We have been educating these persons about the importance of acceptance and respect for their fellow Guyanese regardless of the many forms of diversity which include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Only recently I met with representatives of SASOD when I committed to addressing issues faced by the LGBT community.

The Government of Guyana has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form. We do NOT practice discrimination and as such we will not condone it.

Re-examination of laws which discriminate against persons comprising the LGBT community has been garnering the attention of the Government.

Government will continue to work to ensure that LGBT persons are not marginalized or excluded because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I leave you with a quote from the great Nelson Mandela – “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

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