SASOD bashes Govt for sloth to legalise same-sex intimacy
…as Pride Festival is launchedManaging Director of SASOD, Joel SimpsonManaging Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Joel Simpson on Friday used the Pride Festival launching event to bash the Government for its sloth in handling the amendment of laws of Guyana which will entitle them to equal rights.Speaking at the launching of the Pride Festival at SASOD’s Duncan Street, Georgetown head office, Simpson said that the group started advocacy for the project since 2017.“We wanted to do this around Independence to make a political point that Guyana’s Independence project is not yet complete if we don’t have liberation of LGBTQ (Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and questioning or queer) Guyanese. If we still have colonial-era laws which criminalise same-sex intimacy…loitering, vagrancy…all these kinds of colonial-era laws which were meant to control the then ex-slaves and indentured immigrants and we are saying that this independence that we are celebrating, 53 years and so on is really incomplete if we still have these shackles,” Simpson related.The activist reminded that any form of intimacy between two people of the same sex is not allowed according to the laws of Guyana.When it comes to the support of the Government, the SASOD Director said he was not pleased at all. In fact, he called for changes to be made to existing laws to benefit the LGBTQ community.He informed that back in 2017, the Attorney General, Basil Williams, had requested that the community create a draft legislation which will be considered. However, fast forward to 2019, no changes have been made to the law.“For us the low hanging fruit, when it comes to legislative reform, is not that discriminatory law which criminalises same-sex intimacy, we think that should be reformed and that should go and the Government has also promised to appoint commissioners to the Law Reform Commission and we think that’s the site where that could be dealt with,” Simpson pointed out.Furthermore, he told the media that “What we think the Government needs to do is amend the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997 to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression”.He pointed out that the bill has already been drafted by the community and they are awaiting some calm in Parliament before it is tabled. Simpson noted that he would like to see the bill deliberated on by both the Opposition and Government.The renewed calls for amended legislation by the LGBTQ community came on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) which was observed Friday.UNAIDS has called on all countries to remove discriminatory laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.This year, the Pride Festival will commence on May 28. Several events will follow including the signature activity, the Pride Parade, on June 1. The parade assembles at Parade Ground along Carmichael Street, east into Church Street and south into Vlissengen Road where the fun winds down at the Square of the Revolution.