More discussion needed on sexual orientation
--- Bishop Randolph George
Guyana Chronicle
July 24, 2003

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The proposed amendment to the Fundamental Rights Bill has generated considerable interest. Unfortunately, debate on the issue has been compressed into an unreasonably short period of time, generating fears and reservations, some of them reasonable and some irrational.

So says Randolph George, Bishop of Georgetown.

In a statement yesterday, Bishop George, the Head of the Anglican Church in Guyana, said:

“The issue has stirred deeply-held convictions and has much potential for aggressive confrontation, which this society can ill-afford. I propose, therefore, that our law-makers give themselves and the society more time to consider and examine the matter.

“The religious community feels the need to ensure values and laws with respect to marriage and personal relations are not undermined. At the same time we are conscious that other values, also promoted by the religious community, must be protected and taken into consideration, particularly the matter of discrimination. Outside of the religious community, yet other valid concerns need to be understood and taken into account. Resolving difficult ethical issues is normally a matter of reconciling values which appear to conflict, all of which are laudable. Applying labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in such situations is neither constructive, nor helpful.

“From a religious perspective, the debate around the issue of sexual orientation would only be helpful if the society emerges with a clearer understanding of the principles which should govern the way we relate to each other. To date this has not happened. Were the debate to be curtailed by a vote tomorrow, it would leave feelings of bitterness in some quarters and misplaced triumphalism in others.

“Until we can resolve this matter legally without fear of generating further divisions, we should not rush to legislative changes. Our society cannot risk creating new fault-lines and divisions. Postponing the debate will ensure that, regardless of the final outcome, the experience of a civilized debate itself will teach us a little more about how to resolve divisions in our midst and contributed to a more tolerant society.

“Furthermore, I understand that the issue has now been released from the time-bound pressure of the Communique by the creation of a new Bill. More time is needed to educate our society on all the implications of the proposed change.”

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