Irresponsible reporting perpetuates a climate of intolerance against LGBT community

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow) and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community of Guyana wish to condemn the irresponsible reporting of Kaieteur News in the case of acid attack victim Ms Sandy Jackman. GuyBow strives to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the LBGTIQ communities by providing activities, programmes, and services that empower community members. We are committed to working with each other, and local, national, and international groups to strengthen countrywide advocacy and organizing to secure equal opportunities for LGBTIQ Guyanese.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Guyanese already suffer a great deal of stigma and discrimination, with many being forced to keep their sexual orientation and gender identity secret out of fear of being victimized. Many who have ‘come out’ publicly have lost their jobs, homes, and been threatened, and harassed, as well as physically attacked.

Ms Jackman made a brave choice to live openly and proudly as a lesbian ‒ a right which every LGBT Guyanese deserves ‒ to freely express themselves. As a victim of a heinous crime, who will require long-term medical care and will be left with permanent mental and physical scars, she deserves nothing less than our utmost sympathy and support.

However, Kaieteur News’s characterization of Ms Jackman’s attack as a result of a triangular love affair instead of as a violation of her human rights contributes to the perpetuation of a climate of intolerance towards LGBT individuals in Guyana. It is extremely dangerous, irresponsible and sensationalist journalism that puts profit-making over the rights and well-being of the Guyanese people.

Homophobia and transphobia remain scourges in our society that must be eradicated. Lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people need love, the right to live without fear, support to develop to the best of their potential, and the freedom to enjoy the same privileges and opportunities as heterosexual individuals.

The media has an important role to play in the creation of a more just and tolerant society. GuyBow calls on Kaieteur News to take this responsibility seriously, especially when reporting on issues related to the LGBT community of Guyana. GuyBow also urges the police to investigate this matter thoroughly, in an attempt to provide justice to Ms Jackman.

Yours faithfully,
A Clarke
P Fraser
S Nageer
S Richardson

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