Religious community rejects ’sexual orientation’ clause in Rights Bill
Guyana Chronicle
July 10, 2003

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The religious community, after long and serious reflection, said that it is united in concluding that “sexual orientation” should not be included as a fundamental right in the Constitutional Amendment Bill to be reviewed once more in Parliament.

The Inter-Religious Organization (IRO) in a recent statement released to the media stated that a meeting was held June 18 2003 at the Bahai National Cultral Centre on Charlotte Street.

The release explained that the Bill is due to be voted on its Parliament shortly and the IRO wishes to make public its position on the Bill with specific reference to the sexual orientation clause.

At the meeting the following statement on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No. 5) Bill was agreed on, the release pointed out.

The religious community in Guyana, comprising representatives of the Bahai, Christian , Hindu and Muslim Communities having met , discussed and prayfully considered the Constitutional (Amendment) (No 5) Bill which was approved in Parliament on January 4 2001 and subsequently returned by President Bharrat Jagdeo to Parliament for further debate, has agreed on the following:

· There is strong religious support for the passing of a Fundamental Rights Bill in Guyana, which will protect the rights of all Guyanese. Its passage will signal the commitment by the country ’s political parties to the spirit of May 5 Communiqué between President Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin and to the priority of the rights and interests of all Guyanese over partisan considerations.

· The religious community, in keeping with its long standing commitment to the respecting the rights of all Guyanese, continues to be firmly opposed to any discrimination, hostility, hatred, intolerance or uncharitableness against any persons because of their sexual orientation. We call on all Guyanese to continue to treat each other with the mutual respect, tolerance and in the non-discriminatory manner at work and in other social-spheres of which this country can be justly proud.

· The Guyanese religious community, however, is equally united and unanimous based on the teachings and sacred writings of all our traditions, that it is God’s will, in his creation of humanity, that sexual intercourse, an image of God’s power of creation, should be practiced within the context of marriage between members of the opposite sex. The religious community accepts its responsibility to give special assistance to persons who consider themselves to be of homosexual orientation and who accept the challenge of abstinence from sexual intercourse. It urges religious groups to provide persons of homosexual orientation with an environment of compassion and to love in which they can find courage to continue to make their contributions to nation building.

· While firmly opposed to any forms of discrimination, abuse or hostility towards persons of homosexual orientation, the religious community in Guyana cannot in faithfulness to the word and will of God, give moral or other support to rights to same-sex marriages or adoptions by same- sex couples. Since the approval of the Rights Bill in its current wording could be interpreted, as it has else where, as giving there rights to homosexuals, the religious community, after long and serious reflection on the above points, is united in concluding that “sexual orientation” should not be included as a fundamental right in the Constitutional Amendment Bill to be reviewed once more in Parliament. We invite our Parliamentarians to reflect on our positions, based on faith, reason and above all charity, which could help them to come to similar conclusions and to the decision to delete the “sexual orientation” category from the Constitutional Amendment Bill.