Opposition coalition Presidential Candidate, David Granger Monday night said if he is elected to office next month soldiers involved in same-sex relations would not face discrimination but they would not be deployed to the same location in order to avoid adverse impact on operations.
Addressing a Candidate Issue Session organised by the Guyana Women’s Roundtable and the Guyana National Youth Council, Granger reasoned that it would be “inadvisable or imprudent” for same-sex couples to be at remote locations or in certain situations.
“All I would recommend is that there should be no discrimination but there should be separation, depending on the operational requirements at that time,” said Granger, a Retired Brigadier and Commander of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). He was at the time responding to a question on what would be his administration’s policy on same-sex relations in the security forces and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
He noted that husbands and wives are not sent to the same location.
A soldier, whose picture was circulated depicting him in a sex act with another male, was made to leave the GDF quite recently. About two years ago, a female soldier opted to leave military service after a video surfaced showing her another female soldier engaging in sexual activity.
If Granger is elected President on May 11, 2015 he would also become Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
He ruled out the possibility of soldiers in same-sex relations being booted out of the GDF, but stressed that evidence has shown that their presence at the same location could affect their “operational efficiency.”
“I have seen numerous instances where it could lead to complete breakdown in discipline and although there is no discrimination it is better to have separation because you can go into a situation on the border, in the hinterland or somewhere where your focus should be on operational readiness but because of the presence who are in same-sex relationships, sometimes people set aside their operational objectives and pursue social objectives, personal objectives,” he said.
At the same time, Granger reiterated that if the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wins the upcoming polls, there would be Codes of Behaviour for parliamentarians, Regional Democratic Councilors and Cabinet members.
These Codes are expected to help fairly address issues of sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual violence by public office-holders. Responding to a question from the floor, the AFC’s Cathy Hughes vowed that errant office holders would be sacked.
“If we have deviations from normal, acceptable behaviour and if we have criminal activity in terms of sexual liaisons or anything of that nature, we would throw the person out. There is no way that we would be keeping on board anybody that displays unacceptable behaviour-no way at all,” said Hughes who heads the AFC’s women’s arm, Women For Change.
The Candidate Issues Session was well-attended by a wide cross-section of young and middle-aged Guyanese. There appeared to be an almost even number of male and female attendees across the racial divide