Homophobia Education Coordinator within the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Anil Persaud on Wednesday voiced his support for condoms to be distributed among prisoners attached to the various penitentiaries countrywide.
“I did do work within the prison systems- both the female prison system and the male prison systems in Georgetown and New Amsterdam and it is a matter of fact that persons within the prison systems do engage in sexual activity- be it overtly or covertly- …and so I see absolutely no problem with the distribution of condoms in any system,” he told iNews during an interview on Thursday.
According to Persaud, not having the method of protection implemented within the prisons is not benefiting the State or its people in any way.
“…all it’s doing is protecting persons who may come out of prison at some time and then go around in the community and engage in sexual activity with others and its best for that person to be safe and to be protected to protect the safety of others who are outside of the prison,” he explained.
Probed as to whether the provision of condoms in prison should be seen as a means of promoting same sex acts, Persaud responded in the negative.
“Absolutely not. I can step into a room with 100 people and bring a salad and put it on the table but it doesn’t mean that 100 people are gonna eat it. That doesn’t mean everybody is gonna start a healthy lifestyle because Anil brought salad to the table and so it’s a similar thing. Giving condoms to persons who are in need of it is in no way, whatsoever, promoting a certain lifestyle. It’s just ensuring that persons are safe,” he posited.
SASOD is a human rights organisation and movement working for equality and justice for all Guyanese.
It is committed to eradicating discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, gender sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in Guyana, and supporting similar working in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Commonwealth, Global South and worldwide.
Back when he was Minister of Public Health in 2015, Dr George Norton had posited that there is still a lot more work to be done in the prisons and other closed settings in furtherance of HIV prevention.
“Whist we are all aware of the risk for HIV in prisons and closed settings, our response in many ways have been lagging and therefore the time is opportune that we prioritise this population” Norton had said while calling for more openness.
“The discussion has to be transparent and real issues have to be addressed in a frontal manner. “… access to HIV education and testing, the controversial condoms in prisons. The opponents of prevention services and more particularly condoms in prison must be educated and lobbied to ensure that there is full understanding of the issues and that decisions are based on evidence and science. Policies have to take on board a comprehensive, combination prevention approach to HIV” he said.
Three years later, it remains unclear whether any polices have been taken onboard Administratively to address the transmission of the disease within the penal system, even though it had been highlighted that “the prison population has a HIV prevalence of at least two times higher than that of the general population.”