Religious community will fight changes to homosexuality laws
…but Govt. to table motion for consultation
Human Services and Social Security Minister, Jennifer Webster, recently asserted that Parliamentary consultations can in fact be done by way of a Motion. Should this route be taken, it will not be an unprecedented move by the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government.
Over the course of the years, a few motions were directed to the Special Select Committees to undertake matters related to the impact of Climate Change on Food Prices, the Disciplined Services and Geographic Constituencies as well as Fiduciary-related matters.
One such course of action was also taken by an Opposition Member in the Ninth Parliament, Everall Franklin, representing the then Guyana Action Party (GAP). Webster, in response to a publication, said that Government is in no way bowing to the pressures of the United Nations. She said that it has committed to a consultation process at the level of a Special Parliamentary Select Committee.
The matters slated for consultations relate to Corporal Punishment, the abolishment of the Death Penalty, as well as the decriminalization of Homosexuality.
“The Cabinet has decided to take these three issues to the National Assembly before it goes into recess, and to send them to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee, which will invite and hear the views of the public.”
Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs yesterday sought to clear the air on the Parliamentary Protocols. He explained that a motion can be tabled for debate in the Full House of Parliament which, in its Resolution/Demand clause, would direct that a Special Select Committee be established to address the matters at hand.
Isaacs said that at the level of the Special Select Committee established as a result of a motion, only recommendations will be reported back to the Full House.
According to the Parliamentary Standing Orders, “A Select Committee other than a Sessional Select Committee shall be known as a Special Select Committee…It shall be nominated by resolution of the Assembly and shall consist of such Members as may be nominated by the Committee of Selection.”
That report from the Special Select Committee, established purely by the resolution of a motion, will submit a list of recommendations stemming from the consultations.
This report with recommendations from the Special Select Committee will require another motion on the floor of the House to adopt the report and recommendations.
A report from the Special Select Committee from a resolution of the House dealing with a draft Bill however, will return any amendments made to the proposed law before it is finally voted on.
“All questions for debate can be sent to Special Select Committees. Questions for debates are Bills, Motions and Petitions,” Isaacs stated.
Minister Webster had indicated that at the stage of the Special Select Committee, the Government will be looking for the highest possible level of consultations.
A large section of the religious community has already weighed in on a particular matter, voicing its resistance to any moves to amend the legislation dealing with homosexuality.