The Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow) will be intensifying its ongoing campaign to promote equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Guyanese after the removal of a section of a bus shed that featured one of its posters.
Executive Director of the organisation Colleen McEwan yesterday told Stabroek News that the act was not only criminal but also discriminatory. However, she signaled that the act would not deter GuyBow from pursuing the campaign, which was launched on August 28th.
“We want whoever is responsible to know that it would not stop us, but it is encouraging us to step up our campaign to demand respect for all those persons who on a daily basis face discrimination,” she said, while noting that the organisation is also contemplating filing a police report.
According to Sherlina Nageer, who is the manager for the campaign, one week after the launch the bus shelter near the junction of Camp and Regent streets, where a poster was placed, was vandalised with destruction of the specific panel holding the poster. The poster was also removed.
Nageer said the bus shelter company has indicated that it has not had such an experience before—only some minor breakages and the theft of its lights and solar panels but an actual ad has never been removed.
“We are, of course, replacing it, and will be monitoring to see if this repeats, but I find it interesting to note that this happened in the first place, especially with the seeming targeting of the message speaking about religious tolerance for LGBTIQ persons,” Nageer said.
Meanwhile, McEwan explained that when they decided to start the campaign, GuyBow did think about the potential reaction of society.
“Given the nature of the campaign, we did anticipate some discriminatory reaction but nothing to this magnitude. We did not anticipate a portion of the bus shed would be removed,” she said, before adding that usually there would be graffiti or defacement.
She said while they have speculated as to those who are behind the act, they would not make any specific allegation as they could lead to stigma of another group in society and that is not their interest.
“But we are definitely concerned. It (the act) sends a strong message of hatred, the very kind of message we are trying to remove from our society. We have too much of that happening. Our campaign is basically to inform people that we need to stop the hate,” she noted.
The campaign aims to promote love and peaceful coexistence among all Guyanese, GuyBow had said in a press release announcing the start. The campaign is part of a broader empowerment and advocacy project supported by Leading from the South (LFS) – a feminist fund dedicated to the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equal rights in the Global South.
The posters, which have been placed in bus shelters in three locations around Georgetown, call for respect, equality, love, and support for LGBTQ persons, as well as a sharing of the public space, and an end to the use of religion to justify hate, the release added.