Canadian envoy sees potential for new attitude to LGBT persons here

Published: July 1, 2014

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Dr. Nicole Giles has reminded that laws which criminalise the private, same-sex relationships between consenting adults perpetuates a slew of discriminatory practices and dangerous trends of violence against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

She said these are manifested by acts of discrimination against them in hospitals, schools, job market, public spaces and being disowned by their families coupled with physical and verbal attacks.

The High Commissioner was at the time speaking at a reception at the Canadian Official Residence last-night to mark the conclusion of Pride Month which celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community and is also a platform to advocate for change.

“In the words of the Canadian Prime Minister the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” Giles told the gathering.

She pointed out that many of the persons discriminated against do not disclose acts of aggression or discrimination for fear of consequences that might follow from disclosure; adding that a culture of silence develops where victims remain voiceless and powerless and this can undermine an individual’s growth, mental health and social interactions.

“LGBT persons are people and should be accorded the same constitutional protections that all people enjoy as an inalienable right.”

She reminded that the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide is not only an integral part of Canadian foreign policy, but is a foreign policy priority.

She is optimistic that there is potential for change in Guyana and said the Government should be commended for the establishment of the Special Select Committee to review recommendations coming out of the 2010 Universal Periodic Review process, one of which is the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Also speaking at the event was Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeria, who recalled that during the Constitutional Reform Phase 1991 -2001 the issue of human rights was addressed where the drafting of an anti discriminatory clause which included the phase “sexual orientation” was developed and passed in the House in 2001. She said the outcry from the religious bodies led to the then President not assenting to the Bill.

She assured that the administration will continue to use the model that it developed over the last 20 years to bring controversial issues, including that of gay rights to the National Assembly with hope of winning consensus and forward movement.

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