Monday, February 20, 2023

Guyana LGBTI Inclusion Index uncovers significant gaps in key sectors

A report which measures the inclusion of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Guyana found significant gaps in education, health, political and civic participation, economic empowerment and security and violence. 

The “Piloting the LGBTI Inclusion Index in Guyana” report was launched on February 20, 2023, marking World Day of Social Justice at the Herdmanston Lodge Hotel. The study was conducted and presented by Research Consultant and Attorney-at-Law Kesaundra Alves. The five strategic sectors were measured according to 22 indicators, compatible with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Kesaundra Alves


The index was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the World Bank and other international development partners for implementation worldwide. 

The study was commissioned by the Guyana LGBTIQ+ Coalition, led by SASOD Guyana and comprised of Sexualities, Women and Genders (SWAG) and the Guyana Trans United (GTU). 

Ranked from 0 to 1 (with 0 representing no inclusion to 1 as greatest inclusion), Guyana's overall score for LGBTI inclusion is 0.241 and the specific sectoral scores are as follows: 

1. Education: 0
2. Political and civic participation: 0.426
3. Economic wellbeing: 0.11
4. Health: 0.67
5. Personal safety and violence: 0

In Guyana, LGBTI inclusion has proven to be strongest in the health sector (0.67), followed by the sphere of political and civic participation (0.426). The lack of LGBTI inclusion in the areas of economic
empowerment (0.11), education (0), and personal safety and violence (0) are most alarming.

Managing Director of SASOD Guyana, Joel Simpson, said this research provides a framework for prioritising policy advocacy. "For us, we will focus on protection from violence and education when it comes to policy advocacy because those were the lowest scores at zero. Dealing with hate crimes is particularly important and dealing with the growing epidemic of anti-LGBTI bullying in schools from a policy and legal perspective,” Simpson commented.

The media launched was livestreamed and can be viewed on the SASOD Guyana YouTube channel.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

New 2022 Poll Finds LGBT Acceptance Has Soared in Guyana

Positive attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Guyana has increased significantly over the last 9 years. This was a key finding of the 2022 poll titled “A Study of Perceptions and Attitudes towards LGBT Persons in Guyana” which was conducted by RMK Consulting Enterprise and commissioned by SASOD Guyana. This year’s national poll was conducted almost a decade after the first-ever public opinion poll on LGBT people and issues was done by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) in 2013. According to results from the 2022 poll, LGBT acceptance in Guyana has soared since then, moving from 19% to 34.5% with an overall percentage of 72.4% of respondents stating that they accept and tolerate LGBT persons. Presenting at the launch of the findings last Tuesday, Dr. Marlon Anatol, a researcher with RMK Consulting Enterprise, noted that hatred of LGBT people had decreased by 50% from 25% in 2013 to 12% in 2022, which is quite significant.


Dr. Marlon Anatol presenting the polling results

Other key results include that nearly a majority of Guyanese believe the Government should prioritize legally protecting the rights of LGBT people with 49.6% of respondents replying positively that it should be a priority for the government to prioritize legally protecting LGBT people. Further, the poll found that a clear majority of 53.9% of the Guyanese population are likely to support the elimination of the law criminalizing sex between men. 

The results also showed that 72% of the population were likely to support legislation that ensures protection against workplace discrimination for LGBT people in Guyana. Remarking on the need for legislators to move with the times, SASOD Guyana’s Managing Director Joel Simpson was keen to note that “we have been in a place where politicians have been saying that the society isn’t ready for change, but these results clearly indicate that the society is way ahead of its leaders and Guyana has changed significantly over the past decade.” Simpson remarked that “the evidence is now available to the Government of Guyana to support including protection for LGBT people in workplace anti-discrimination legislation.”

 Principal and Director of RMK Consulting Enterprise, Dr. Mark Kirton, gave an overview of the study indicating that 1,070 respondents were interviewed in-person between June 18 and July 11, 2022, through a house-to-house exercise across most regions of Guyana. The stratified random sample was representative of the Guyanese population in terms of sex, age, race, religious affiliation and other demographics, based on the 2012 National Census for Guyana.


Dr. Mark Kirton providing an overview of the study

For over 19 years, SASOD Guyana has been at the forefront of calls to repeal the laws which criminalize same-sex intimacy and disproportionately affect LGBT people, leading to increased levels of discrimination in all areas of their lives. Simpson stated that SASOD Guyana intends to disseminate the polling results widely. He noted that “this information needs to be on the desk of every parliamentarian” and stated that SASOD Guyana is “going to continue our advocacy to bring this to the attention of the policymakers because we really want to see action, particularly now that we are seeing most of the population, 72%, saying they are supportive of non-discrimination protections for LGBT persons” as it relates to the right to work. SASOD Guyana has also been advocating for the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997 to be amended to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as grounds of discrimination.

SASOD Guyana has noted with interest the positive rhetoric of the PPP/C administration on LGBT issues. However, Simpson repeated the call for decisive actions to be taken by parliamentarians and legislators. He confirmed that SASOD Guyana would be continuing to engage with the Government on these issues, noting the significant increase in support for LGBT people across Guyana.

 Video Recording of the Media Launch of the 2022 Poll:


Link to the 2022 RMK Polling Report:

Monday, August 29, 2022

Visit Rupununi, Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition Ink Historic Agreement on LGBTQ+ Tourism

On Thursday, August 26, 2002, Visit Rupununi and the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition together  signed a Memorandum of Understanding which signifies the beginning of a partnership to promote the Rupununi region of Guyana as a warm and welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ tourists.


Visit Rupununi is a non-profit regional destination marketing and management organization which has been developing sustainable eco-tourism products within the Rupununi region while conserving the nature-based, traditional heritage of local indigenous peoples and the wider Rupununi region.


The Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition is comprised of the Guyana Trans United (GTU), SASOD Guyana and SWAG. Together, these organizations have been tirelessly advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Guyana.


Providing brief remarks before signing the historic agreement, President of Visit Rupununi, Melanie McTurk, shared details about their eco-tourism products which are centered around nature, wildlife conservation and outstanding hospitality. And while the Rupununi region has always had a good history of hosting LGBTQ+ guests in the past, Mc Turk pointed out that being able to feel safe and be respected is what everyone desires when looking for a holiday destination. She said “with this in mind it is important for the Rupununi that we continue to equip ourselves with the skills and knowledge to appeal to an ever-growing market base to ensuring that all visitors to the Rupununi are treated with equal respect and consideration.”


The Memorandum of Understanding formalizes the partnership between these organizations whose common goal is to promote the Rupununi as a tourism destination that is LGBTQ+ friendly. One of the ways the parties to the agreement plan to do this is having the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition train members of Visit Rupununi on LGBTQ+ issues in order to sensitize their representatives. The Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition will begin by training 15-20 Visit Rupununi trainers, and the training will teach them how to deliver the training themselves within their organization going forward.


Visit Rupununi’s Melanie McTurk (left) signs while GTU’s Miglon Braithwaite (second from right) SASOD Guyana’s Melina Harris (second from left) and Joel Simpson (right) look on.

[Photo Credit: Vishani Ragobeer / News Room]


Noting the importance and value of the “pink dollar” internationally, Mc Turk shared that “the LGBTQ+ travel market was worth more than USD$218 billion worldwide while the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S alone, spends 10 percent of its purchasing power, or nearly $100 billion US, on luxury travel.” Mc Turk went on to say that “through our collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Coalition we will be taking the first steps to ensuring that the Rupununi is a region that is safe and welcoming to all persons regardless of race, class, or sexual orientation.”


In supporting the sentiments of the Visit Rupununi President, Simpson said that “certainly from a business perspective, the private sector understands that there is no room for discrimination, money doesn’t discriminate, when you make money, you don’t make gay or straight money.”


He went on to say that “all of us will benefit the more inclusive our society becomes in every single, sector and this is something Guyanese believe, that if we allow everybody to participate in the economy, we allow everybody to work, to earn a living without discrimination, all of us will benefit, all of us will experience development.”


The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signifies the beginning of a strong partnership between the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition and Visit Rupununi. The parties are committed to promoting Guyana as a safe and warm tourism destination that is LGBTQ+ friendly for everyone within and outside of Guyana. 


The livestream is available on SASOD Guyana’s YouTube:


Thursday, July 14, 2022

SASOD Guyana Welcomes Antigua Court Decision Decriminalizing Same-Sex Intimacy

Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD Guyana

SASOD Guyana welcomes the decision of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court following the conclusion of a challenge brought by a gay man against the state, who argued that the Sexual Offences Act (of 1995) contained several unconstitutional and discriminatory sections.

According to the Court’s ruling, sections 12 and 15 of the Sexual Offences Act which prohibited several acts of same-sex intimacy were deemed by the Court to be unconstitutional and discriminatory. SASOD Guyana emphatically celebrates with the people of Antigua and Barbuda, civil society and other partners who contributed to the success of the legal challenge.

Celebrating the victory, Co-Chair of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) Lucien Govaard, stated that “we reiterate that it is time governments in the region let go of these colonial structures as they have no place in a modern, diverse, and developing Caribbean.” The leader of the regional LGBTIQ+ network went on the urge regional leaders to “tackle these issues as a united region, one Caribbean, where all our peoples can live without fear, discrimination, harassment, or violence.”

Similarly, the Caribbean Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Observatory and the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) are urging Caribbean Governments to repeal discriminatory laws that continue to marginalize and infringe upon the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people and to firmly adopt and promote a culture of inclusion and respect for all people.

The Court’s decision in Antigua and Barbuda follows rulings in Belize (2016) and in Trinidad and Tobago (2018) where similar legal provisions were struck down. There are currently ongoing constitutional challenges of the same nature in St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Barbados, where final rulings are expected to be handed down by the end of the year.

SASOD Guyana notes that there are now fewer Caribbean nations where these archaic laws remain on the books. Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD Guyana, reminded that “We have been lobbying and working with the Government of Guyana for over 19 years to remove these discriminatory and dangerous laws here in Guyana. We remain among a rapidly decreasing number of Caribbean nations that continue to allow these colonial remnants to endanger the lives of LGBTIQ+ people, in spite of the human rights implications.” Simpson went on to state that “we hope that the Guyana government can see that this issue is now practically settled law. These provisions are discriminatory and unconstitutional, and they must go! We hope the government is encouraged to table legislation in the National Assembly to repeal similar provisions which criminalize same-sex intimacy in our law books.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

“They were wrong then and they are wrong now” – British Envoy on Laws Criminalizing Same-Sex Intimacy at Media Launch of Guyana Pride Festival 2022


Georgetown, May 12, 2022

On May 11, 2022, the Guyana LGBTQ Coalition, comprised of the Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow), Guyana Trans United and SASOD Guyana, with support from Her Excellency Jane Miller OBE, British High Commissioner to Guyana, launched the Guyana Pride Festival 2022 ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). 

In providing brief remarks, the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller OBE noted that “the UK is very proud to be a champion for LGBT rights across the whole world. LGBT rights are fundamental human rights, and we are committed to the principle that everyone, everywhere, should be able to love the person they love and express themselves without fear of violence”.

The Pride Festival will be celebrated this year under the IDAHOTB theme, “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights.” Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD Guyana, stated that the advocacy focus of this year’s Pride Festival would centre around sexual rights, noting that, “we want to draw attention to laws which criminalize same-sex intimacy; we know that these laws are colonial in nature and they are relics we inherited from colonial rule.” He shared that as part of the festival’s advocacy plans, there would be various opportunities during the course of the activities for there to be discussions around the impacts of the criminalization of sexual rights and how they particularly impact the LGBTIQ people in Guyana.

When asked what she thought about the laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy, High Commissioner Miller stated that “Guyana has inherited laws that were brought in many, many years ago, British laws, the UK has now repealed that. We now have very progressive laws in the UK that protect the rights of the LGBT community and there are many countries like Guyana where that has never changed. The UK has changed, and I am very proud of the fact that the UK has changed, which is why I am very proud to be championing the rights of the LGBT community. My view is that they [the laws] were wrong then and they are wrong now and I will do all I can to be championing changes that protect the rights of the LGBT community.”

Simpson stated that the festival would see “us celebrating ourselves, our communities and who we are and we are saying that we will not shy away, we will not cower in the face of stigma, discrimination and prejudice. We will stand proud because we are a part of the Guyanese society and we are championing a one Guyana these days and we believe that we are part of that one people, one nation and one destiny that is promised to everyone in this country.”

The Coalition presented that Guyana Pride will return to the streets of Georgetown in 2022 after 2 years of being confined to virtual Pride events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the Festival’s activities will be in-person events this year.

Guyana Pride Festival will open on Sunday, June 19, 2022, with a Virtual Inter-Faith Forum hosted in collaboration with the Caribbean Inter-Faith Network (CARIN) at 18:00hrs on SASOD Guyana’s social media pages. Then, on the night of Saturday, June 25, 2022, the Guyana Trans United will be hosting the much anticipated “Drag Fest” event, further details will be provided by the GTU in the coming days.

On the evening of Friday, July 1, 2022, the Coalition will host an “Open Mic” Night where attendees are invited to take the stage to showcase their talents in music, dance, poetry, prose, spoken word and other art forms. On Monday, July 4, 2022, SASOD Guyana will host a Movie Night.

On the following Friday, July 8, 2022, the Coalition will also be hosting a Games Night which will see competitors battling to win a number of exciting prizes. Then, in the afternoon of Sunday, July 10, 2022, GTU will be hosting a Tea Party and Hat Show. The following day on Monday, July 11, 2022, GuyBow will host the Pride Symposium which is slated to start at 17:00hrs.

Finally, Pride 2022 will conclude on Saturday July 16, 2022, with the two of the most anticipated events: Pride Parade 2022 and the Pride Party. As customary, the Pride Parade will move off from the Parade Ground at Middle and Carmichael Streets at 14:30hrs and is set to conclude at the Square of the Revolution. GuyBow will then host the Pride Party from 21:00hrs at Cocktails Hotspot Bar and Grill on High Street, Kingston. 

The calendar of events and details of all activities will be available on the social media pages of the members of the Guyana LGBTQ Coalition: GuyBow, GTU and SASOD Guyana.

Please access the live streamed event here:

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

SASOD, Human Dignity Trust Gather Evidence on Hate Crimes in Guyana

Georgetown; March 25, 2022 

SASOD Guyana and The Human Dignity Trust (HDT) - a UK-based organisation working to challenge laws that persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity – have embarked on a process to examine the occurrence of hate crimes in Guyana.

In early 2021, the two organisations commissioned “A Situational Analysis on Hate Crimes in Guyana” which was conducted by Guyanese researcher Pere DeRoy, a social scientist and doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas in the USA, to document the nature and extent of hate crimes based on prejudices related to race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality in Guyana.

The preliminary results of the research have highlighted the need for more discussion and dialogue on prejudice in Guyanese society. SASOD Guyana and HDT are working to condense the situational analysis into a short summary chapter which will be accompanied by chapters examining the local legal context, and the international context and good practice principles, which together will inform the approach to be taken to address hate crimes in Guyana.

This past week the two organisations hosted introductory workshops on hate crimes to raise awareness and receive feedback on the preliminary results of the situational analysis from key stakeholders in Guyana. From Tuesday, March 22, to Thursday, March 24, 2022, SASOD Guyana and HDT held three, half-day workshops with civil society groups. The workshop sessions successfully engaged a wide range of civil society groups, especially from the Guyana Equality Forum. On Wednesday evening, March 23, there was also a special workshop with Guyanese human rights lawyers. The workshops were led by Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD Guyana, and Naomi Lumsdaine, Senior Lawyer at HDT. There was consensus among civil society groups who noted the need to build a coalition to support reform and to better protect racialised groups, gender and sexual minorities, and other marginalised groups from hate crimes.

The two organizations committed to continue working together to finalize the report on hate crimes and disseminate the findings widely in Guyana, whilst building further consensus among civil society and other key stakeholders on a comprehensive approach to tackle hate crimes.

Joel Simpson, SASOD Guyana

Naomi Lumsdaine, HDT

Monday, May 17, 2021

SASOD Guyana Announces Second Virtual Pride on IDAHOTB 2021

May 17, 2021

SASOD Guyana Announces Second Virtual Pride on IDAHOTB 2021

SASOD Guyana joins civil society and state actors around the world in observance of  the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), under the theme: “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” As the world continues to grapple  with COVID-19, now more than ever the need for solidarity is  a matter of life and death. We all must do our part to ensure the survival of the most vulnerable groups among us.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in  Guyana in March 2021, SASOD Guyana recognized that this global health crisis could  have had a disproportionate impact on sexual and gender minorities. Alongside the University of the West Indies and other partners in the Eastern Caribbean, SASOD Guyana therefore conducted a study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among LGBT people. The June 2020 survey found, unsurprisingly, that over 70% of participants  had lost their job or experienced reduced working hours due to COVID-19 pandemic and national containment measures; most of these persons reported having had very little savings. The analysis also revealed moderate levels of psychological distress among the target population. Most participants  were unable to meet their basic nutritional needs  and are in need of supporting services to cope with the emotional distress brought on by the pandemic.

 As the response against this global health crisis  wages on, SASOD Guyana reiterates its previous calls to the Government of Guyana to provide tangible support to LGBTQ+ persons and other vulnerable groups across  the country.

As in most other parts of the world, there are no public gatherings for IDAHOTB and Pride celebrations this year. SASOD Guyana is therefore pleased to launch its second 592 Virtual Pride 2021, under the theme: #LiveOutProud. The one-week online festival will commence on June 7, marking SASOD Guyana’s 18th anniversary, and run until June 13. LGBTQ+ persons and allies alike can look forward to the Live Launch on June 7, Pride Yoga on June 8, Queer Film Night on June 9, "Global Guyanese Gaffing" on June 10, Pride Games Night on June 11, Caribbean Inferno Pride Party on June 12 and a final Pride Inter-Faith Forum on June 13, which brings the curtains down on  the week of virtual activities. Persons can follow SASOD Guyana on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more details on the upcoming 592 Virtual Pride celebrations.