SASOD launches ‘Guyana Together’, aims at law reform for LGBTQ community

– increased acceptance and tolerance recorded throughout Guyana – SASOD Head

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Guyana on Wednesday officially launched its ‘Guyana Together’ campaign at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
The campaign is aimed at removing the stigma attached to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Director of SADOD, Joel Simpson

Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson, while addressing the gathering, stated that there has been a significant increase in acceptance and tolerance of the LGBTQI community in Guyana. However, with that being a plus, he noted that the campaign will further aggressively petition for law reform for these members.
The 1997 Act currently prohibits discrimination in a place of employment based on: race, sex, religion, ethnicity, indigenous population, nationality, social origin, economic status, political opinion, disability, family responsibilities, pregnancy, marital status, or age.
Nevertheless, the campaign will include a series of videos of LGBTQ persons sharing their stories, which will be broadcast across traditional and social media channels.

A section of the gathering at the launch

The initiative was launched with partners such as the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the Black Entrepreneurs Association, and Help and Shelter, among others.
However, a representative of the Guyana Presbyterian Church, Pastor Patricia Bisnauth, related that the church continues to support these initiatives, and applauded the courageous work which is being done by SASOD, its allies, and other human rights organisations.
“To do otherwise would be to stand on the side of a fractured society afflicted with hate, intolerance, and lacking compassionate love, justice and grace, which are the fundamentals of what it means to be human,” Bisnauth related.
On the other hand, Director of the Help and Shelter, Pamela Nauth, stated that “for too long” LGBTQI persons have been forced to live in the dark”, as a result of outdated laws which have made it difficult for them to live “openly” and as their authentic selves.
“Our voices need to be heard loud and clear. We must speak up and stand in support of our neighbours who are being faced with unfair treatment,” Nauth posited.

Some of the campaign partners at the launch on Wednesday

Meanwhile, Avinash Narine, a young designer, spoke of the challenges he faced when he first revealed his sexual orientation.
“Many people were forced to hide themselves, and many people still do. However, for me, I am proud of how far I have come, and the support and respect I have received,” Narine said. He hopes this new campaign would open doors for more young persons in the LGBTQ community, especially those who feel unwelcomed and afraid to come out.
The “Guyana Together” campaign has to date been endorsed by more than 60 local organizations, with its first phase set to run for two years. During this period, emphasis will be placed on educating Guyanese and engaging lawmakers to repeal laws criminalizing intimacy between adult men.