Time to repeal all archaic discriminatory laws

– Women and Gender Equality Commission

The Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) yesterday called for the repeal of all archaic laws of a discriminatory nature even as it distanced itself from statements made by one of its commissioners, Nicole Cole on gay rights.

The statement by the WGEC will be seen as a call for the repeal of anti-buggery laws.

In a statement to the press, the WGEC noted that as a Human Rights Commission born out of the Constitutional Reform/Amendment process of 2001-2003 they are obligated to uphold all international treaties and conventions to which Guyana is a signatory.

These, they explain, include the Charter of the United Nations with its Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its derivatives such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). They also noted that the Guyana Constitution upholds and enforces the protection of human rights at Article 154 A and the relevant Fourth Schedule.

Cole, who sits on both the Rights of the Child Commission and the Women and Gender Equality Commission on Monday stated that she does not support the decriminalization of homosexual acts specifically the repeal of the buggery law. In defending this statement first made on her Facebook page, Cole made mention of the rape of children, which she said is rampant before claiming that scientific evidence has proven that anal sex is the riskiest behaviour for the transmission of HIV.

On Wednesday several Civil Society groups including the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) condemned Cole’s “homophobic” statement and called for the commissions to hold Cole to account for her public statements which “do not correspond with the mission and values of these rights-based bodies, which are set up to work for all Guyanese.”

The WGEC, has since responded by disassociating itself from Cole’s “discriminatory comments concerning the LBGT community and human rights.”

“On the eve of our 51st anniversary of Independence from Colonialism, it is necessary to repeal all archaic laws of a discriminatory nature,” the commission stated in direct contrast to Cole who told Stabroek News that the decriminalising of the law is not a straightforward issue.

Cole pointed out that she represents the Rastafarian faith on both of the commissions noting that it is a faith that “will never support the legalisation of buggery in Guyana.”

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