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‘Guyana Together’ campaign launched

to promote tolerance, acceptance of LGBTQ persons

THE Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Guyana, along with several partners, on Wednesday launched the “Guyana Together” campaign, which aims to encourage tolerance and acceptance of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) population.

The campaign was launched at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Kingston, in collaboration with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the Black Entrepreneurs Association (BEA), and the Guyana Press Association (GPA), with over 60 other local civil society and private sector organisations endorsing it.

According to the Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson, the campaign is a grassroots public education campaign which aims to increase acceptance and respect for LGBT+ persons in a measurable way, over a specific period.

While he noted that the first phase of this campaign would go on for about two years, he revealed that work on developing the campaign began in April 2021. To support this, Simpson highlighted that a lot of communication research, including a poll which was released last year, was done to get a feel of where the country is in terms of acceptance.

“We already had some baseline data because the first national poll on issues related to LGBT people was done in 2013, so nine years later it was a good time to come back and check to see where we were,” he said.

Some of the partners and endorsers of the campaign were present at the launch on Wednesday (Japheth Savory photos)

Added to this, he highlighted that findings from the most recent poll showed an increase in acceptance from 19 per cent in 2013 to 34.5 per cent and overall, it was found that acceptance and tolerance had increased to 74.5 per cent while hatred reduced from 25 per cent to 12 per cent.

He added that with that, they were also able to get a sense of where people stood on the legislative issues and found that some 54 per cent of the people polled support decriminalising intimacy between consenting men in private.

A significant majority of the population, he remarked as well believe that LGBT+ issues should be a priority for the government.

To this end, he said that this campaign is where their aggressive lobbying for law reform needed to start. However, for this to happen, there must be an increase in social acceptance and subsequently, legislators will follow.

Meanwhile, public relations consultant for the campaign, Nazima Raghubir, told the gathering that the campaign is geared towards inviting Guyanese to join the national conversation to learn more about the LGBT community and what it means to treat everyone with respect.

“While this campaign will uplift the experience of gay and ‘trans’ people, we will focus equally on the growing number of allies in Guyana who are breaking the silence by speaking up and calling on our fellow Guyanese to respect our gay and ‘trans’ friends and loved ones,” she said.

Beginning this week, Guyana Together will launch a national television advertising campaign bringing powerful stories of LGBT persons, thus sparking conversations.

Against this backdrop, Simpson remarked that it took some time to find good stories of acceptance and resilience from persons who were willing to go public.

“All the stories that you see are real people, still living in Guyana, no hidden faces, no fake names or anything of the sort. So, these are people’s real lives they’re sharing with the entire nation and these stories are going on national television on social media and eventually too on radio,” he added.