The legal and social repercussions of the decriminalising of homosexuality need to be examined

Dear Editor,

SASOD has come out with a statement declaring that it wants no referendum as part of the “consultations on sexual orientation and gender identity” promised by the government in the months ahead.

The four signatories to a letter appearing in your Monday edition are of the view that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transvestite minority must “manage and take center stage in this process.” In sum, the rest of the Guyanese population, their sympathisers included one assumes, should be set to one side while these activists, “key stakeholders” the writers affirm, would be “managing” the consultations to a unanimous “aye” vote or whatever it is they intend. No disrespect is meant, but it is like asking Brer Dog and his band to “manage and take center stage” in the initiative to decriminalise egg-sucking. As prime “consultee” the canine viewpoint is sure to prevail. Another interesting point raised by Vidyaratha, Joel, Namela and Ryon, writing “on behalf of SASOD,” is that Dr Roger Luncheon, in outlining the initiative, misused “whether deliberately or unwittingly, the critical politics of language to whip up public hysteria” with “snide references to fearful notions of ‘gay marriage’“. Clearly the vaseline of equivocation and obfuscation would have been preferred. For the fact is that, as modern history presents it to us, once decriminalised, LGBT rights immediately throws up a process wherein some practitioners seek the sacralisation of their unions, precisely in the rites of “holy matrimony”, if I am to refer to a tradition of the cultures where these rights have so far been asserted and accepted.

Dr Luncheon has not, as far as I have read, described the content, form, and terms of the “consultation” envisaged. As I wrote previously, this could be limited to a few public hearings to be followed by a parliamentary vote in which a simple majority carries the day. There are concerns about this. The AFC, which has ceaselessly called for LGBT to rally to it, may vote with the government if the PPP, self-described as “tolerant” by Luncheon himself,  decides to defy public sentiment and back the decriminalisation measure. Perhaps the chase after the few LGBT votes will see parties sprouting, in addition to the youth and the usual women’s arm, another arm or member under the LGBT banner.

Let us not forget that decriminalising of homosexuality, in terms of legal history, invariably comes as part of a packet that contains, in most of Europe where the process is already complete, the liberalisation of pornography laws, the legalisation of public prostitution, and the indulgence in a variety of perverse past-times whose absurdity is thrown into relief by the facts of a dwindling and aging population multiplying itself out of demographic existence as it indulges in these diversions. In other words, it is a significant step downwards to Avernus and the abyss of decadence. The LGBT community must acknowledge that, once decriminalised, law and law reform obey an imperious logic that would impose itself by according similar/equal treatment to other forms of sexual behaviour now considered deviant or criminal. So far the group has been heartlessly silent on the fates of these other preferences. It would be interesting to learn, during the consultative process, what other sexual behaviours are considered criminal in our legal code.

Evidently, all the practical consequences of decriminalisation have to be considered.

The story is told of the owner of a small cafe-restaurant in a Christian country that had gone LGBT.

The day after the law is passed he witnesses the head waiter, an exemplary and hard-working fellow, turn up in a flowered red dress, blonde wig and the full works with the walk and the mannerisms to go with it. Shocked and worried he consults his lawyer. Who lets him know he has to keep the guy or face a costly discrimination suit. So he says nothing to the employee but decides on a strategy of slow harassment to drive him out. But slow as it was, the clientele had begun to change and in short order he discovers himself the owner of a gay bar. Flamboyantly so.

Then, as his reputation as a gay bar owner grows, people began to say that he himself had rushed out of the closet when the laws changed. He finds himself shunned, begins to receive anonymous letters…his mistress abandons him..he no longer wishes to be seen entering the place..surprisingly, for the nightly crowd, revenues fall.

There are several endings to the story, depending on the country in which it is told. In one version he contacts the local Mafia chief who tearfully confides that he too has the same problem.  In another, he heads for the cathedral to seek advice from the city priest who he shockingly recognised as another nightly regular. In another, he burns the place down to claim insurance and gets caught.

The legal and social repercussions of this move, as it would affect our choices when it comes to employees and associates, need to be considered.

 Yours faithfully,
Abu Bakr

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