By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt on Wednesday (March 12) hosted a reception in honor of Zenita Nicholson, Secretary to the Board of SASOD – Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, who is the 2014 recipient of the U.S. Embassy’s International Woman of Courage Award.
“Today I’m being honored for my courage, but I have no courage; not compared to those who inspire me to advocate for equality, human rights and dignity,” Nicholson said as she accepted her award.
She said she is inspired by the courage of lesbian, gays, bi – sexual and transgender people living in Guyana: a country where adult same sex intimacy and cross dressing is criminalized and highly stigmatized.
“I know their struggles and I’m very proud to be part of the human rights movement in Guyana, calling for the repeal of discriminatory laws and enactment of laws which protect people from discrimination,” Nicholson added as she expressed profound gratitude to the embassy of the United States of American and those who helped her in her journey.
Meanwhile, Hunt recognized Nicholson as a civil society activist who embodies the principles of women’s leadership in issues of global importance.
“This award is about courage and leadership. Zenita Nicholson embodies these principles and exemplifies the traditions of personal freedom and equality that remain shared values between Guyana and the United States,” Hunted stated.
Nicholson is currently the Country Coordinator for Caribbean Vulnerable Communities/PANCAP Global Fund Round 9. She is a Guyanese human rights advocate and sits on the Board of Trustees for SASOD.
According to Hunt, “she has been an energetic, effective and passionate advocate at both the national and international level for the principal that both women’s rights and the rights of lesbian, gays, bi – sexual and transgender persons are human rights, deserving of equal attention and protection.”
Her advocacy with the government, politicians and the UN Human Rights Committee secured a commitment from the Government to initiate a national dialogue on the decriminalization of LGBT activities. She was also involved in several other local, regional and international advocacy activities that have led to change for affected persons.
In this regard Hunt said the United States is committed to working in partnership with local organizations to establish social equity and access to essential social services for all.