Guyana: Public consultation on removal of anti-gay laws

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Authorities in Guyana are planning a series of public consultations on whether to repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.

Guyana remains the only country in mainland South America with laws forbidding homosexuality on its statute books, though they are said not to be enforced.

Homophobia and anti-gay laws remain widespread in the Caribbean, however, with which Guyana is more culturally aligned.

Presidential Adviser Gail Teixeira told The Associated Press the government has “no line or position on the gay rights issue”.

“We will hold the consultations, and if the recommendation is to change the laws, then that will be taken into consideration.”

It is not clear how much public support there would be for a measure to strike down the laws.

Currently, the law punishes a man convicted of “gross indecency with any other male person”, whether committed or attempted, with imprisonment for up to two years.

The law also punishes “attempts to commit buggery”, “assault with intention to commit buggery” and “indecent assault” as felonies attracting up to ten years’ imprisonment.

A life sentence follows “buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature”.

Public consultations and talks with religious leaders are due to take place this year as part of a pledge given by Guyana to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Ms Teixeira said the government will report to the UN on progress last this year, saying: “We are keeping our promise to consult with an open mind.”