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Fire Juan Edghill over gay hate speech- SASOD

SASOD’s Executive Member, Joel Simpson

A Guyanese gay rights group on Tuesday called on government to sack Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill because he allegedly uttered hate speech against the homosexual community.

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination’s (SASOD) call is contained in its 11-page submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

In the report titled “On Devil’s Island: A UPR Submission on LGBT Human Rights in Guyana, SASOD wants the Donald Ramotar administration to “remove Edghill from ministerial and other state portfolios because he “has flagrantly incited hatred and intolerance in the public sphere in direct contravention of the Guyana constitution and he has blatant disregard for international human rights standards and fundamental rights and freedoms,” said the organisation.

Edghill allegedly made his disturbing remarks on a privately-owned radio station on June 15, 2014- the same day that SASOD submitted its report to the UPR, a peer review mechanism.

SASOD alleged that in apparent defence of Pastor Ron Mc Garrell’s off-the-cuff view then that homosexuals should be put on an island, Edghill “used the most inflammatory language, describing homosexuality as “destructive, unwholesome and unhealthy.” The organisation further r charged in its report that Edghill went on to state that it is “scientifically proven” that homosexuals are more promiscuous, disease-laden and violent than “normal people.”

That organisation contended that the former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission was adamant and unapologetic for his “hateful comments which were clearly intended to incite ill-will against LGBT people which is a violation of Article 146(3) of the Guyana Constitution.”

SASOD plans to submit copies of its report to Human Services Minister, Jennifer Webster; government back-bencher, Manzoor Nadir and Edghill before engaging specific stakeholders. The organisation plans to also lobby the President and his administration.

Executive Member of SASOD, Joel Simpson said a number of government officials have sought to side-step claims of discrimination against LGBT persons such as buggery and cross-dressing laws, treatment of members of that community by law enforcement personnel and school teachers, health care personnel and property owners.

Simpson called on government to demonstrate political leadership to protect minorities. “Our laws and policies should protect everybody. You shouldn’t have to wait until there is rampant discrimination, injustice and abuse before you address issues and if that is the approach that our elected representatives have to human rights, then I think we are in a very dire situation,” he said.