SASOD Responds to Request for Information from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

In reference to your correspondence dated September 1, 2006, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) - Guyana provides the following information at your request:

We note that the IRB has some information in a previous request available at RIR GUY42340.E which gives some background to the environment for the treatment of homosexual people in Guyana.

Please find below the response to your specific questions:-

1)1. Treatment of homosexuals by society in general; whether homosexuality is illegal.

The treatment of homosexuals by society in general varies according to social class and economic background. Persons who are openly gay of a higher social stratum and those who are independently wealth are more insulated from the strong homophobia that is ever so present in the Caribbean to which Guyana is no exception. Most working-class homosexuals are forced to conceal their sexual orientation in fear of social persecution, discrimination and stigma. In a survey on suicide in Regions 5 & 6 during 2000 conducted by the Regional HIV AIDS Committee noted that 8.9% of the men who committed suicide were homosexual.

Under section 351 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act Chapter 8:01, consensual sexual activity between men, whether in public or private, is illegal. This Act is available from http://www.gina.gov.gy/gina_pub/laws/Laws/cap801.pdf
It is also a summary offence for a man to dress in female attire. (check http://www.gina.gov.gy/gina_pub/laws/Laws/cap802.pdf) As recently as Monday, May 15, 2006, a self-confessed male prostitute, Ronell Trotman, was charged for this summary offence before the Georgetown Magistrate Court. Check http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=55974744 Stabroek News, Tuesday 16 May, 2006.

An attempt by the Eighth Parliament of Guyana to enshrine constitutional protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was strongly opposed by sections of the Christian and Muslim communities. This resulted in the Parliament rejecting the Amendment. A request dated December 2, 2005, by SASOD to the Ethnic Relations Commission for the state to ban homophobic lyrics in popular music has not been acknowledged despite repeated attempts by SASOD in this regard. The Ethnic Relations Commission is to the Ethnic Relations Commission, a constitutional commission mandated to preserve respect for diversity

2. Statistics of reported crimes against homosexuals or statistics on prosecution of such crimes. Work of the police, the courts and the authorities in general in relation with the protection of homosexual persons.

There are no statistics on homophobic crimes or their prosecution. Homophobia results in the under-reporting of several sexual offences committed by men against other men.

SASOD receives reports of police brutality against homosexual people, but many of the victims are scared to follow up on the reports. The reports also include sexual violence committed by police.

3. Non-governmental organizations working to support and/or protect homosexual persons.

In addition to the SASOD, the Guyana Rainbow Association (GuyBow) does HIV/AIDS work with vulnerable groups including Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and male-to-female transgender Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) and provides related support to these groups.

The Guyana Human Rights Association has investigated reports of police brutality when asked.

SASOD is a human rights advocacy group in Guyana working against discrimination particularly on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity since 2003. SASOD also organizes various activities to promote respect and tolerance for all forms of diversity in a plural society. SASOD has managed to conduct some activities but always in an atmosphere of apprehension.
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