Army Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best has declared that the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has no problem with same sex relationships.
“No one is discriminated against at the GDF,” Best said at a ceremony for the handing over of its renovated medical centre annex at Base Camp Ayanganna. “So, same sex relationships is not a problem but how persons conduct themselves.”
Best’s declaration comes in the wake of the Guyana Defence Force’s sanctioning of two female soldiers after a recording of them in a sexual act leaked to the public and went viral locally. In commenting on the case involving the soldiers, former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran criticised homophobia in the disciplined forces as well as the government’s evasive approach on the issue of same-sex relations.
Meanwhile, the renovated facility was handed over by the GDF HIV AIDS Prevention Programme yesterday and is the result of the army undertaking to strengthen its medical facilities at Base Camp Ayanganna to improve its capacity to provide clinical care to the HIV positive and other military members. “This programme is a part of the Guyana Defence Force anniversary,” Best added, saying, “We are winning and we will continue to fight against HIV.”
Beverley Gomes-Lovell, who heads the GDF HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme, said the programme was designed to strengthen and provide care for military members and also an electronic health information system, which will help the medics greatly.
Stabroek News was told that the programme will reach out to the members of GDF and Guyana Police Force as well as their family members. In addition, haematology, biochemistry, microbiology and voluntary counselling are services provided at the medical centre, which will have the services of three doctors. National AIDS Programme Secretariat Programme Manager Dr. Shanti Singh, who also spoke at the handing over, said she was happy about the milestone for members of the GDF.