The people of Guyana will head to the polls to decide if homosexuality should remain illegal in their country.
Located in South America’s north Atlantic corner, Guyana is home to about 770,00 people. It is the only country in South America where homosexuality is still illegal.
The Guyanese government announced in a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) it would hold a referendum on the issue.
There are no indications when the referendum will happen according to a report in the Guyana Chronicle.
In the letter the government said there were mixed views on the issue in Guyana. It also declared President David Granger’s support for abolishing the criminalization of homosexuality.
‘With this Executive support, efforts will be made to advance the cause and strengthen the implementation, enforcement and the system of the protection of every Guyanese citizen, including the LGBT community,’ the Government promised the IACHR.
Guyana is keen for change, but it’s up to the people
Despite saying ‘no person should be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, since everyone has a right to work, pension and gratuity’, the government said it was still necessary to hold a referendum.
The government argued in the letter that the Constitution of Guyana has specific guidelines on the fundamental human rights and freedom that do protect LGBTI people.
The government said the LGBTI community were protected under various articles in the constitution, including; Protection from Inhuman Treatment; Freedom of Conscience; Freedom of Expression; Protection of Freedom of Assembly, Association and Demonstration; Protection from Discrimination on the grounds of Race….Sex, Gender, etc.; Right to Free Education (at any Primary or Secondary School owned and funded by the state); and Protection of Human Rights.
Guyana has long been under pressure from international agencies and LGBTI groups to decriminalize homosexuality.