Readiness of society must be considered in addressing anti-gay laws – Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar on Saturday said that the readiness of the society has to be taken into consideration before changing anti-gay laws.

“I am against any kind of discrimination as far as jobs etc etc is concerned in our society. I have no problems with this group of people. I have never had any problems with them but I think we also have to look at the readiness of our society in some of these cases,” he said at a news conference at State House on Saturday. The president was asked whether his government would support laws to reverse ones that are currently on the books, which advocates for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, said should be repealed.

“I have to… protect them and ensure that they’re not discriminated in as far as government services is concerned but I have to also be conscious and sensitive to the feelings and views of a lot of other sections of the people in our country,” Ramotar said. “You don’t want to talk about democracy and then ask me to only take into consideration the views of one set of people,” he added.

In relation to whether government ministers ought to be more sensitive when they make statements about the LGBT community with reference made to an uproar surrounding comments by junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill, Ramotar said that he had not delved into that matter. “I saw some of it. I didn’t get to the root of it but I know sometimes the media can take things out of context so I don’t know in what context they took him in so I’ll look at that,” he said.

Edghill has 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 on the heels of a complaint being lodged against him to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

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 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.”

Edghill 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.

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