Govt reaffirms its support for LGBTQ community
(Georgetown- October 19th 2017) – “Recognition of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community is not an addendum to the agenda of the Government of Guyana (GoG) as it is not an anomaly of nature. Support and a good life for all our people is what this government is all about”.
This was the utterance of Minister of Education, Hon Nicolette Henry MP at a reception for the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) to mark an early celebration of ‘Spirit Day’. The official day is set for world observance on Thursday. The event was hosted by British High Commissioner, Gregory Quinn at his Bel Air residence in Georgetown on Monday last.
In a ponente speech, Minister Henry said those gathered were doing so as friends and allies; in a modern war against discrimination, marginalization, and stigmatization. “Spirit Day provides an opportunity to speak out against LGBTQ bullying and also standing with the LGBTQ community, in particular our young people, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities”.
She said pledging to “go purple”, which is the colour of choice for Spirit Day, is a way for everyone including forward-thinking leaders, to visibly show solidarity with the LGBTQ community and be a part of what she described as the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.
Minister Henry said that the GoG is intentional about the inclusion, protection, and recognition of this demographic as part and parcel of its people, deserving of every and all rights under the law.
Ms. Henry said she is aware of the vulnerabilities associated with this (LGBTQ) community and from an education perspective, its members must not lack knowledge of the facts, challenges, and solutions to issues that confront them.
“The power of education is recognized as a driver and enabler for more inclusive and sustainable development” Minister Henry quipped.
She said an occasion, such as ‘Spirit Day’, is public and affirmative to say without evasion, that we denounce all behaviour, statements and action, from any level of our society.
Further Minister Henry said that any attempt to bully, ridicule, condemn, and threaten the well-being of others because of their sexual orientation should be rejected by all of society.
Meanwhile, in his address to the gathering, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, said that the United Kingdom (UK) is committed to the principle of non-discrimination on any grounds, including on the basis of sexual orientation and or gender identity.
“We are committed to promoting and protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community. It is our belief that LGBTQ people are not asking for special rights, merely to be accorded the same dignity, respect and rights as other citizens”.
Further Mr. Quinn said human rights are universal and should apply equally to all people. He said the UK is implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination and will continue to work tirelessly to uphold the rights and freedoms of LGBT people in all circumstances.
The High Commissioner said he has noted recently with dismay some provocative and inaccurate comments made about the LGBTQ community.
“There is no excuse for such ill-informed commentary… It cannot be dressed-up as free speech”. Quinn said the concept of free speech has its limits and does not mean freedom to incite violence. Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBTQ Youth and to take a stand against bullying. Every year millions of people wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for LGBT Youth, and to speak out against bullying.
The event was attended by H.E First Lady Sandra Granger, members of the diplomatic Community and other guests in support of the call for tolerance, respect, and non-discrimination. (By Brushell Blackman)