Today, May 17, the Ambassador of the United States of America, Sarah-Ann Lynch, the Acting British High Commissioner, Ross Denny, the Canadian High Commissioner, Mark Berman, and the Ambassador of the European Union, Fernando Ponz Canto are proud to join other governments and civil society organizations from around the world to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). This year, the IDAHOTB theme is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!”, and it celebrates the power of communities to promote social cohesion.
The date May 17 was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. There has been some progress since this day was first celebrated in 2004. We are proud to see that countries in the hemisphere have taken concrete steps toward the elimination of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex (LGBTQI+) persons in the past year. Education, awareness-raising and dialogue have helped tremendously in addressing stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTQI+ persons and we encourage Guyana to join regional partners to continue these efforts.
LGBTQI+ people still face serious challenges in their everyday life. With 69 countries still criminalizing same sex relations, millions of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people live in fear of being who they are and showing whom they love. Transgender people are subjected to punishments in at least 37 countries and experience unprecedented levels of violence across the globe.
We encourage Guyana’s civil society and political leaders to embark on a process of engagement and change in 2021 with the aim of decriminalizing intimate same sex relations. We understand and respect that countries are at different stages of acceptance and engagement on this issue. Nevertheless, human rights of all persons are universal and indivisible, and these include the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.
We believe that May 17 is a day we can all come together and continue our dialogue and collaboration with all our partner states and civil society organizations to help bring an end to discrimination and violence against LGBTQI+ persons.
On this day, let’s raise our voices and recommit our efforts to put human dignity at the heart of all that we do to build more just and more inclusive societies.