Today, May 17, 2016, marks the celebration of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and the European Union and the British High Commission join Guyana and the rest of the world in commemorating this significant day. Today, we reiterate our strong and unwavering commitment to the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The EU and the British High Commission wish to pay homage to the resolute and courageous advocacy efforts carried out by individuals and civil society organisations in Guyana and around the world in addressing the discrimination faced by LGBTI persons. Their work has been crucial every step of the way in putting these issues on the table, documenting abuses and advocating for the effective protection of fundamental human rights. The EU and the British High Commission have been proud to provide support to Guyanese activists, such as the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), in their struggle to obtain protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Guyana is a democracy based on respect for the rule of law, and indeed is one of the few countries to have an anti-discrimination framework that is very close to comprehensive. The missing element is, of course, that Guyana does not protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The right to equality and the protection of all persons against discrimination are fundamental norms of international human rights law.
The European Union and the British Government are committed to the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The member States contain very different peoples, we speak different languages, and we have different cultures.
But we are united in our commitment to democracy and the rule of law. Of course, democracy does not mean that the will of the majority must always prevail. Democracy means accepting people who are different, respecting their right to be different and not discriminating against them because they are different. We are united in our commitment to respect the dignity of one another.
On this the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we encourage Guyana to act on the main recommendations delivered in the framework of its second United Nations Universal Periodic Review held in January 2015, in particular regarding decriminalisation of consensual same-sex intimacy between adult men, and cross-dressing.