Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Laws against bullying needed to protect LGBTQ+ youth - CPA Head, Ann Greene

At a reception on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the British High Commissioner’s residence, Director of Children’s Services and Head of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), Ms Ann Greene delivered feature remarks, highlighted that for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other (LGBTQ+) youth, there must be laws against bullying to curb the quiet epidemic. The third, annual event was hosted by Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD Guyana) and the British High Commission in Guyana to mark Spirit Day – an annual day to raise awareness of anti-LGBTQ+ bullying in schools observed on the third Thursday of October. 
In attendance were the co-hosts, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn and Mrs Wendy Quinn, other representatives of the diplomatic corps, civil society representatives, youth advocates, and private sector officials. The reception featured a short programme which also included remarks from the British High Commissioner, along with musical renditions and the recitation of the Spirit Day Pledge.
CPA Director, Ms Ann Greene delivering the feature remarks
In her feature remarks, Greene stated that LGBTQ+ people in Guyana are oppressed and marginalized because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and suffer discrimination in accessing their civil rights. She lamented that LGBTQ+ persons need what every other person needs, regardless of their human characteristics. “It is love and acceptance. Every human being born into this world has a right to be here, being placed here by the Superior being of the Universe with their own purpose,” Greene said.
Greene emphasized that Spirit Day – is a day to stand up and give support to persons who suffer infringement of their human rights.  The CPA head pledged to use her role “to contribute towards bringing about the needed social change – the right to social inclusion for all persons. All groups of people must be respected for who they are, with prejudice,” she empathized.
In addition to laws against bullying, the Child-Services Director called for specific interventions to address the unique challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth in Guyana. Greene said these include targeted social programmes; safe schools, care centres, neighbourhoods, and housing; safe access to recreational facilities and activities; access to adequate health services and supportive workplace policies. She closed her remarks with an inspiring quote that “the beauty of standing up for your rights is so that others can see you standing and stand up as well."

H.E Greg Quinn, British High Commissioner delivering short remarks at the Spirit Reception

H.E Greg Quinn in his brief remarks reiterated that “LGBTQ+ persons are not asking for special rights; they are seeking to be afforded the same rights as any other Guyanese citizen.” The High Commissioner further called for persons to promote diversity and tolerance for LGBTQ+ persons.

In closing SASOD Guyana’s Homophobia(s) Education Coordinator, Valini Leitch commented that taking a stand against LGBTQ+ bullying is not a one-day affair, but requires collective daily action.

 SASOD Guyana's Homophobia(s) Education Coordinator, Valini Leitch giving the Vote of Thanks