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May 14, 2016 Editorial, Features / Columnists
“All sons of one mother, Guyana the free…One land of six peoples,” says our national anthem which expresses an ideological belief that is supposedly dear to many in society. But sadly, many in the same society disavow promoting or accepting the values, beliefs and lifestyle of some in the multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural Guyana.
Fifty years after independence, a section of the population in the land of the free still lives in fear of, and fear from discrimination. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Guyana are not respected or accepted by others because of their different lifestyle.
The right to same-sex marriages in the United States and the coming out of the closet by public figures has brought to the fore the need to address this issue head-on. There are adults and youths in Guyana who are afraid of being a gay in public. They face various forms of discrimination like name calling, isolation, bias and even physical violence.
They are challenged about how they should dress, walk or speak. Some of them drop out of school because they cannot cope with the public humiliation from peers and even some teachers. LGBTs are forced to accept low paying jobs and careers which are not their desired choice. Too often they are stigmatized by the public and even family members and, as a result, they gravitate to their community.
Generally, the low paying and menial jobs are the saving grace of gays and lesbians. But they can make tremendous contributions to society once they are given the respect and opportunity to have an education and good paying jobs.
Discrimination against LBGT is a societal problem and everyone including the religious leaders should lead the fight to make sure that they are treated fairly and equally in society.
While there is a campaign against discrimination of those infected with the HIV/AIDS virus in schools and the workplace, a similar campaign should be launched against discrimination of LGBTs in Guyana.
It should begin in the schools where teachers and administrators should be provided with the necessary training to educate children that LBGTs have the same rights like everyone else in society, and that they should not discriminate against them or those who have family members or friends who are gay. Further, there is a formal policy on this issue which states no one should be discriminated on the grounds of their sexual orientation, religion, race or political affiliation. In other words, discrimination of any kind is illegal and should not be tolerated.
The issues surrounding the lifestyle of the LGBTs are not of religion or morality, but of human rights and discrimination. Everyone should set aside their biases based on the supposedly spiritual and sacred views and accept these people for who they are—human beings and nothing else. They should be reminded of the creed which says that all are equal in the eyes of the Creator.
Homosexuality is a difficult issue to discuss even among family members because of the different views of some. It is one that is deeply mired in moral and spiritual values which are totally subjective. Many have introduced their Christian doctrine to preserve the sanctity of marriage, which in their view has been ordained to be an act between one man and one woman. They have ignored the concept of marriage outside of that doctrine.
Anything else is an abomination because they believe that they are right. However, there are some fundamental differences between being right and being enlightened.
This can perhaps be best summarized with the critical question: does the government and/or any of its ministries have any right in the privacy of a person’s bedroom, dictating what can or cannot be done between two or more consenting adults? This is the same society that sees an abomination behind the closed doors of consenting adults and accepts it.
The hypocrisy lives on, sanctioned by moral and spiritual values which is a dilemma for LBGTs and society.
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