Homosexuality is a human rights issue

Stabroek News
July 26, 2001

Dear Editor,

As an executive of the "International Human Rights Watch" organization, I have had the displeasure of documenting countless human rights abuses in the Caribbean and South/Central America. In the past two decades, next to Jamaica, Guyana has been flagged with a high incident report of concerns, especially in the area of Gay issues. Consequently, I was extremely keen on the recent proposals by the Guyanese Parliament to repeal laws that criminalized homosexuality. Even though the proposal was defeated by the successful lobbying of organized religion in Guyana, it was at least a recognition by the Government that there is a concern.

I am, however, confident that in keeping with its democratic view, the government will revisit this agenda once the post-election bugs are ironed out.

With the recent invitation by some North American countries to be more favourable to skilled immigration applicants, there has been an increase in self-sponsorship approvals. Amongst these eager citizens to leave the Guyanese shores are a high number of Gays. These men and women are desirous of making a valuable contribution to their native country but do not feel welcome in a system that deems their lifestyle illegal.

I appeal to the Government to reconsider its position on this extremely important Human Rights issue and allow equal rights and protection to all its citizens.

Yours faithfully,
Berkeley Van Bowen
International Human
Rights Watch