By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Parliamentarian Manzoor Nadir says while he will vote to scrap anti – buggery laws if the need arises, the cry from the minority community in Guyana for the removal of such policies from the Constitution is “making a mountain out of a mole hill.”
Speaking on the Radio Programme ‘Hard Talk’ on 90.1 Love FM, Nadir said “the whole debate is something this society don’t need right now, it’s been happening for centuries and even though the law is on our books it remains a personal issue and whatever happens between two consenting adults is their business. This national outcry for change is an agenda by other people.
“People make a lot of money and create a lot of jobs by creating these storms in a tea cup.”
Nadir reasoned that while anti – buggery laws occupy Guyana’s constitution and may encourage discrimination and fear, it is not being enforced and only when it is enforced, prompting discrimination, then such an outcry may be warranted.
But this reasoning was rejected by Alliance or Change (AFC) Executive Member Beverly Alert.
“I disagree. It is not making a mountain out of a molehill. In actuality many persons cannot live freely or practice their sexual orientation freely. Even though it’s a small population they are still Guyanese and as lawmakers we have a responsibility to address discriminatory laws. This is no less an important matter.”
In his rebuttal, Nadir further argued that changing the laws was not top priority, adding that it will not stop prejudice. He said more statistics need to be provided on cases of discrimination.
“People say many people but I’m a man that deals with facts, provide statistics to show that it is a very serious issue.”
On this note, Alert registered her concern that any one incident that infringes on anyone’s rights is one too many as she sighted cases where persons refused to make complaints to the police because of the existing laws that are used as tools of intimidation.
However, Nadir maintains that if Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) persons are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, especially with violent attacks, then they should make official reports to the Police so these issues can be addressed.
“Let them make complaints officially… I like to deal with facts and not perception … I will be the first to agree that any infringement of human rights even if it’s one is wrong.”
To this end, Alert, who claimed that her Party has been receiving several complaints of discrimination in accessing work and medical care, inquired from Nadir “what about a proactive approach?”
But Nadir was unrelenting in his position, reiterating that “people have to get out of fear mode and make these complains… it is the instances of hard facts that changes everything.”
Alert pointed out that some human Rights are given top priority while others are neglected and that shouldn’t be.
“We can’t uphold one set and don’t look at another set… they are all equally important.”
But Nadir is adamant that the Guyanese society is very tolerant and the issue of removing the anti – buggery laws in not top priority at the moment. He made it clear that it was his personal view and not the view of the Party he represents.
Currently, buggery in Guyana is illegal and punishable by a maximum penalty of life in imprisonment. There are also laws against cross dressing.