Some of the suicide cases in Berbice felt they were homosexual

Stabroek News
August 2, 2001

Dear Editor,

The debate in your letter columns on the granting of rights to all persons regardless of their sexual orientation has shown for a greater part the level of fear in our society to change the way we think and to accept that many times we can change our views as we develop our societies.

Throughout our history, groups of people have had to empower themselves to challenge the prevailing attitudes which oppressed people based on gender, religion, race and even in the early days, economic status when poor people could not vote.

Our view of religion is based on the kind of choice we make in which interpretation of the writings. For every religious view against homosexuality, there are now emerging interpretations which counter those views - for all of the world's major religions. Some of the Christian churches have accepted gay priests, and even gay marriages. But that is the nature of religion. Many of the religious texts were used to perpetuate the discrimination - remember slavery, apartheid, white supremacy in the US. Religious groups had to counter those views and fortunately, there are many religious groups which do not condemn people who are not heterosexual.

The points have been made already that eliminating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation does not make sexual abuse and molestation legal. There are people who are straight who also abuse and molest. Our laws are inadequate when it comes to issues of dealing with sexual abuse and coercion. While we are changing our laws, we should improve them to make easier recourse for especially child victims of sexual violence.

Recent writings about sexuality have proposed that many people's sexuality is on a spectrum, and that at different times people are attracted to different people - stories abound of 'straight' people who found themselves attracted to persons of the same sex; and of gay people who have found themselves falling in love with people of the opposite sex. What business is it of ours what consensual adults do, as long as they are not harming other people or affecting other people's livelihoods.

The continued condemnation of homosexuality in Guyana has severe consequences. The recent survey of Suicide in Region 5 & Region 6 revealed that 8.9% of the suicides felt they were homosexual. Men and boys who are sexually abused are scared to report because they feel that they will be labelled as homosexual and be condemned as a result.

There are many law abiding people of different sexual orientation who have contributed to their countries development. It was reported in the Sunday Chronicle that President Jagdeo met with Lord Wahid Alli while he was in the UK. Lord Alli has made no secret of his homosexuality and it is a shame that Guyana would discriminate against people like Lord Alli.

Our prejudices are based on our fears and ignorance, and these are caused because we have not been encouraged to open our eyes and minds. Just as the society had to accept that it was wrong for a man to beat his wife, that slavery was wrong, that men and women had equal rights, that white people and non?white people had equal rights, that non-Christian people could be educated; so too we should be thinking whether we need to make a change in how we view people who are not heterosexual. Many of these points have been made before, this is just to reinforce them.

Yours faithfully,
Vidyaratha Kissoon