A law to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation What the People say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
October 7, 2002

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Do you think a law should be put in place to protect persons from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation? The relevant amendment to the Constitution to enshrine this was not assented to by the President following pressure from various religious groups and others. These were the reactions of the man/woman-in-the-street.

Vaulda Williams - vendor: `No. They [the legislature] should not get involved in that. They [homosexuals] should not be given any hearing, it's against God's law and it should not be a law in Guyana. We need to protect our people. If they want to implement the law, they could but there are consequences that we will have to face eventually. Things will happen in our nation, like men marrying men. There will be lawlessness on the increase.
I totally don't agree with such a law. We never had a law like this and we should not implement it now. We should not look to the outer world for these types of examples. It's not good for our young people growing up. If this law is going to be implemented in Guyana, the country will be on its way to destruction. Remember God destroyed a whole city because of gays and lesbians. We will be condoning it if we implement that law and it's not right.'

Latoya Cummings - student: `Everybody lives their own life and if they choose to be homosexual, well let it be. That should not stop them from getting jobs. Let them just live their lives. Some of them are criticised and people disrespect them. We should not let them be exposed to that. Everybody has a choice. And if they choose to be homosexual, it's just that. In most cases though, they have equal male and female hormones and you'll have to expect that. Some people can't help it and some people chose to do it. But the law may also not be such a good thing. We have to think about it. It could be a big influence on their lives because most of them will be out and it could put some of the young people coming up now at risk.'

Dwayne King - computer specialist: `No it shouldn't. But it's a two-sided story. In some environments they have a very negative impact on society. But from what I know, I think they are focused people, always trying to make a point. And when they apply themselves they are successful. But just the mere fact that they are gay, it's wrong and it's has been since biblical times. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah were burnt to the ground because of that. Besides, the amount of things I see gay people doing in the country I don't see any discrimination. And if they passed the bill there would then be gay rights. You can't have gay rights you need to have human rights for everyone. You can't isolate yourself and expect not to be discriminated against.'

Claire Christian - public sector employee: `They should not be discriminated against if they are going to seek employment. You'll find homosexuals of all calibres: There are some that are very discreet. I feel they should not be discriminated against because they are human beings. They should be able to walk freely like everybody else. And there should be strict penalties for persons who may try to taunt them or verbally abuse them. And they should start making reports. I think generally, especially in this society, they are not accepted because of the way the general public sees them. I think the government should be put in place. They are part of society. They are part of the workforce. They make up the population and there should be no discrimination. They are contributing to our society in various ways.'

Richard McConnell - businessman: `A bill should be put in place. While I don't agree with it [homosexuality], it's part of a person's constitutional right, their right of choice. Although not in every case, it has its roots in a person's own biology. It would be very wrong to discriminate against them based on that. I am not necessarily saying that it should be legalised because I am speaking from a moral and religious standpoint. But that doesn't give me or anybody else the right to discriminate against them.'

Susan Fields - teacher: `I should think so. Nobody should be discriminated against, regardless of their sexual orientation. We should be treated as equals because judgement comes from God. And it could go both ways. Not implementing the law, are they prepared to cope with what will happen when people begin the gay bashing. And sometimes innocent people could be become and will become the target in the process. Who could really know what is going on in your bedroom. So you need to protect everybody. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. There are those who will say that if a law is implemented we will be condoning homosexuality. They have their say and I have mine.'

Willemina Parson - housewife: `Yes, I feel a law should be put in place. No one has a right to discriminate and everybody has a right to live their life as they see fit. We have to leave it to them to make their own choices. When they meet their judgement they will have to answer god for the path which they chose. I feel that the law should be put in place to protect the gay rights, because they have rights to live their lives the way they see fit.'

Ramesh Persaud - accountant: `I think homosexuality is wrong. God only created man and woman and nothing else, like homosexuality is wrong in the sight of god. And those who would want to implement such a law would be encouraging a high state of lawlessness and immorality. It is not a matter of victimisation. People's mindset about it is wrong. I wouldn't call it discrimination or victimisation, it's just a man standing up for what is supposed to be right. We are not supposed to tolerate it. It should not be tolerated and to put a law will be tolerating it. Bottom Line: In the sight of god its wrong and a law like that would take us back to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.'

Damian Madray - student: `Why not. Why shouldn't a law be put in place. Everybody has their own rights. I am not saying I would welcome it, I don't think homosexuality is right, it's wrong. I am just saying that nobody should be discriminated against based on their sexual lifestyle. If you welcome a bill like that you might be encouraging homosexuality, more people would want to come out since nobody would be allowed to discriminate against them. And if you don't welcome it people will keep it a secret and it probably won't increase. But we shouldn't be interested in their sexual lifestyle. It's none of our business.'

Nalini Latchmin - cashier: `They should implement a law, yes. There is a lot happening now and they need protection in the workplace and on the streets. Everybody has a right to live. We are all equal.'