By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Local gay rights advocacy group – Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) – has called for Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill to be relieved of his ministerial responsibilities and be removed as a Member of Parliament.
According to the SASOD, Edghill who is also a Bishop is guilty of making hate speeches in relation to homosexuality and persons who practice the act; reasoning that it could incite ill-will against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) persons.
The Body was making specific reference to Edghill’s recent comments on the Radio Program ‘Hard Talk’ on 90.1 FM where he supported views expressed by Pastor Ronald McGarrell where he [McGarrell] said that homosexuality is a learnt behaviour and that all gay persons should live on an island by themselves to prevent it from spreading.
According to SASOD, “Edghill used the most inflammatory language describing homosexuality as destructive, unwholesome and unhealthy.”
The government MP had said that it is scientifically proven that homosexuals are more promiscuous, disease laden and violent than normal people.
“Edghill was adamant and unapologetic for his hateful comments which were clearly intended to incite ill-will against LGBT people, which is a violation of Article 146 (3) of the Guyana Constitution,” SASOD contends.
These concerns and recommendations were included in a submission SASOD made to the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of its 21st round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
SASOD’s Co-Chair, Joel Simpson is strongly convinced that Edghill’s language and tone amounts to hate speech.
He recalled another government MP, Manzoor Nadir who also shared his views on the issue. Nadir had said that more evidence needed to be provided of discrimination, violent or otherwise, against LGBT persons before the administration could take action.
To this end, Simpson said he would like to know “which rock Nadir is living under.” He said there is more than abundant evidence, adding that “I find it strange, in fact it is a backward position that we should wait until discrimination becomes rampant before we address it… if that’s the government’s approach, then it’s a dire situation.”
Simpson also took a swipe at Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira who had publicly stated recently that there is no fast track to making these changes.
“She is wrong, there is a fast track and it’s called political leadership. This is what this current government lacks when it comes to dealing with these issues, human right issues,” Simpson said.
He added that the true test of democracy is the administration’s ability to protect its minority; adding that the group is not in any way advocating for new rights but rather for the better protection of existing Human Rights.
SASOD maintains that there are breaches to the local constitution and international laws when it comes to LBGT persons in Guyana.
The group has compiled and submitted its own 11 page report: “On Devil’s Island” which addressed Guyana’s discriminatory laws and the denial of fundamental rights along with a list of 15 recommendations for the Guyana Government.
Among its recommendations are for the government to amend and repeal several laws, more human rights education and more sensitivity training for health care workers and implement mechanisms for reporting and redress where LGBT persons would have been violated.