On the heels of a complaint being lodged against him to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Minister in the Ministry of Finance Juan Edghill yesterday denied that his remarks during a radio programme on gays and homosexuality were hateful.
“I categorically deny that I have said anything that was hateful,” Edghill told a press conference that he called to address the issue.
Two advocacy groups are calling on the Guyana government to fire Edghill from his post as Minister within the Finance Ministry and as a Member of Parliament (MP) as a result of statements he made about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community which they said are in violation of local and international regulations.
His dismissal is one of 15 recommendations contained in an 11-page report sent to the UNHRC on June 15th by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI).
In the report, titled ‘On Devil’s Island: A UPR Submission on LGBT Human Rights in Guyana’ SASOD and SRI told the UNHRC that Edghill, while on a local radio programme “used the most inflammatory language” when he described homosexuality as “destructive, unwholesome and unhealthy.”
The report said that Edghill went on to state that it is “scientifically proven” that homosexuals are promiscuous, disease laden and more violent than “normal” people.” SASOD also told the UN that “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.”
Edghill yesterday said that at the time of his contribution, he was wearing the cap of a priest and not that of a government official.
He emphasised that he will always hold firm that homosexuality is an unnatural act and not of his God.
It is with this belief, he said, that while he believes that gays and homosexuals should be allowed equal access to free speech, work, healthcare and housing, he did not feel they should raise children as a couple. “It’s unnatural for two people of the same sex to procreate and to raise children,” he asserted.
However, he said that at no time did he say that homosexuals were destructive, unwholesome unhealthy or disease laden. He maintained that he “loves all people” but will keep his religious belief that homosexuality is an abomination and was not of God.
Edghill said that he believes that SASOD officials did not listen to the recording themselves and if they did, they selected excerpts and misconstrued what he said. He believes that the document sent to the UN by SASOD was a publicity gimmick and was “tomfoolery”.
Following the airing of the radio programme last month, Edghill, in an interview with Stabroek News, rebuked those who criticise persons for voicing their convictions against LGBT lifestyles. “The problem,” Edghill said, “is the gay agenda. Nobody must touch it. It is a sacred cow.”
He had defended statements by pastor Ronald McGarrell that LGBT people should live on an island by themselves so as to not endanger others when God visits his wrath on them. McGarrell later told Stabroek News that his comments were a “light hearted joke.”
“Our sacred text says these things attract the wrath of God… God hates sin in any form. He loves the sinner but hates the sin… Pastor McGarrell is saying if you’re not concerned about the wrath of God, well, please go in a place that when the wrath of God is coming down we…, who believe different are not affected,” Edghill had said.