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Guyana urged to end ban on gay sex at UN Human Rights Commission

Guyana urged to end ban on gay sex at UN Human Rights Commission

A United Nations audit of the state of human rights in Guyana has recommended the country finally repeal its colonial era sodomy law penalizing sex between men and to ensure there are adequate laws to protect sexual minorities from hate crimes.

The recommendations came out of the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Universal Periodic Review process which noted that Guyana had agreed to discuss updating its laws in that regard when it was last before the commission five years ago.

The Guyanese representatives responded that there had been a civil society debate on the issue during that time frame – but by the end of it no laws had actually been changed.

‘During this period, there has been free and unfettered freedom of expression by NGOs including the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), religious organizations and the media on these issues,’ Guyana’s diplomats said, according to human rights blog 76 Crimes.

They told the commission that cultural issues had made it difficult for the government to change the law.

‘Guyana … acknowledges that there are interpersonal prejudices based on cultural attitudes and religious beliefs as reflected in a 2013 survey which indicated that 25% of Guyanese are homophobic,’ they said.

Representatives of the governments of Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United States, Argentina, Canada, Norway, Spain, Chile, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and Colombia used this year’s Universal Periodic Review to urge Guyana to finally repeal its laws criminalizing homosexuality and for anti-discrimination laws to be passed.

The government of Guyana agreed to accept a number of recommendations that came out of this year’s human rights audit.

Those include taking measures to ensure that hate crimes and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity are vigorously investigated and appropriately prosecuted. That recommendation was made by the United States.

Another included continuing effort in eliminating discrimination against LGBT starting with the review of its related legislation – recommended by Thailand.

Guyana also committed to a recommendation from Brazil which recommended it strengthen the protection of LGBTI individuals.

Guyana is a former British colony and the only English speaking country on the South American mainland, but it looks culturally more to its island neighbors in the Caribbean than it does the rest of South America.