Chronicle article was very irresponsible

Dear Editor,

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) expresses deep dismay at what can only be described as scandalous musings published by the Guyana Chronicle on May 22, 2015 under the headline ‘God Can Change the Most Wretched Soul.’ The article is not only misleading, but it nefariously fuels the perception that being gay is a regrettable condition which someone can “pray away,” as it focuses on the journey of a young man on what is described as his “bisexual condition.” The article refers to very powerful demons that possessed the “bisexual bai” and describes his sexuality as a “thing.” Apart from being distasteful, this is the pinnacle of irresponsible media.

On several points of clarity, I wish to address the misleading and unscrupulous content. Firstly, I would like to state that homosexuality and bisexuality are different orientations on the spectrum of sexual orientation, as is heterosexuality. Contrary to the claims made by the writer, bisexuality − neither homosexuality − is not a condition, a thing, a psychological disorder, nor is it the result of what is described as demon possession.

It is irresponsible for any media house, much less the state-owned newspaper to publish such ill-informed, preposterous ramblings. The author speaks of the use of therapy as a measure to reduce or even reverse same-sex desire. As a student of psychology, I find the mere suggestion damaging to the appreciation and understanding that persons should have of sexual orientation and sexuality in general.

It is important to note that since 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially removed homosexuality from their diagnosis list, allowing those who practise in the field to integrate sexual orientation more in line with explanations of identity and personality formation. In simpler terms, homosexuality and bisexuality are just who some people are, the alternative being heterosexuality; these are components of self, not a sickness and curse.

I wish to point out also, that the Guyana Chronicle, being state-owned media, should not embolden the publishing of anonymous religious articles. There ought to be a distinct, unhampered separation between religion and the state in our secular democracy and pluralistic society. That said, it is completely unacceptable to publish such bias that can incite antipathy and ill will by an unnamed and unidentified writer, without leaving him/her open to public scrutiny and accountable for his/her irresponsible opinions.

The prejudiced representation of Christian views on the subject also needs to be flagged, as it facilitates monolithic branding of all Christians as homophobic by the media and the general public. Having grown up in a Pentecostal church, and being an ally of the LGBT people for many years, I know that this is simply not the case. There are persons of all faiths who accept LGBT people for who they are without any reservations.

Finally, SASOD would like to reinforce that the state has a duty to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all its citizens. There should therefore be no prejudice, discrimination or opprobrium against any person or group by the state media. The use of the term “wretchedness” to describe a person’s sexual orientation is clearly a violation of the state’s obligation, as it castigates same-sex desires. In fact, the state should utilize its media resources to educate the citizenry with unbiased, non-discriminatory information; not promote prejudice by giving space to the meandering homophobia of an anonymous contributor, masquerading as a newsworthy human-interest story.

We ought not to be hasty in our generalization of the things that we do not understand, spreading fear and propaganda that fuels disrepute toward LGBT persons. It is this misunderstanding that fuels discrimination and violence towards the LGBT people and provides a false feeling of justification by those who perpetuate it. This is particularly applicable to leaders in the religious, political and business sectors where there is a high degree of influence.

 

Yours faithfully,
Chelauna Providence
Social Change Coordinator
SASOD

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