International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day 2007 is the start of the year to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). SASOD, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, advocates that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is the violation of human rights.

The right to equal protection of the law without any discrimination (Article 7 of the UDHR) is denied by omitting sexual orientation from Article 149 of our constitution and anti-discrimination laws. The right to privacy (Article 10 of the UDHR) is denied by the existence of s. 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act Cap. 8: 01 which seeks to criminalize sexual activity between consenting male adults. The right to work (Article 23 of the UDHR) is the most affected among the economic rights as many lesbians, gays and bisexuals in Guyana are being fired or discriminated against in employment policies and practices because of their perceived sexual orientation and are too scared to raise these issues in the public domain for fear of further victimisation The right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being including medical care and necessary social services (Article 25 of the UDHR) is at conflict with discriminatory policies and practices within the healthcare system.

Internationally, progress has been made to recognise that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons are part of the humanity which is assured of dignity and justice. The Yogyakarta Principles were unanimously adopted in November 2006 and presented to the United Nations in November 2007. The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. Many countries are repealing their discriminatory laws and some Caribbean leaders – most recently Grenada's Minister of Tourism - have started to recognise that the homophobia in the Caribbean has to change.

We believe that full human rights will also be achieved in Guyana when the state does not allow teachers to beat children in schools; when HIV positive persons are not rejected for employment; when disabled persons are assured of decent work and livelihoods, when there are economic and fiscal policies which ensure a decent quality of life for all citizens; and when our democracy becomes fully inclusive and participatory at all levels.

SASOD also recognises that as human beings, we are not only bundles of rights, but also we have an obligation towards each other to ensure that our humanity is nurtured. While we are beneficiaries of rights, we also have duties towards those who for one reason or another cannot achieve their full potential in our society. SASOD salutes those individuals and organisations in Guyana who have worked to eliminate prejudices and discrimination at all levels; and who subscribe to the believe that "the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world"
Tags: IHRDStatementLGBT Rights