As the world observes Zero Discrimination Day, the Social Protection Ministry has promised to address discriminatory issues that were raised by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).
SASOD Advocacy and Communications Officer Schemel Patrick during a recent meeting with Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence and the Ministerial Advisor John Adams related that although Guyana’s labour policies support the elimination of discrimination in employment, training, recruitment, and membership of professional bodies, there are gaps that need to be addressed in the Laws of Guyana.
According to the organisation, the absence of a ‘specific’ prohibition on sexual orientation, gender identity and health status within the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997, leaves persons within the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and persons with stigmatised health conditions vulnerable to discrimination with impunity in the workplace.
Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence after listening to the concerns raised by the group agreed there should be no discrimination in employment, education and health as she expressed her responsibility to protect all Guyanese and noted her position that everyone is entitled to their rights.
“We can’t have one group benefitting while another is suffering. We (Ministry) do not share the view that the rights of citizens are good for one but not the others,” the minister said.
However, the organisation reiterated the lack of protection in law and policy for persons when it comes to sexual orientation, gender identity and health status. SASOD called for more action by the coalition government as it built its campaign on social cohesion, equal rights, inclusion and cooperation amongst all people.
Meanwhile, SASOD Managing Director Joel Simpson reminded that Guyana has made voluntary commitments to international agreements and has a legal obligation under international human rights law to honour its commitments.