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US urges end to discrimination against disabled, consideration of same-sex marriage

US Embassy Charge D’Affaires, Bryan Hunt.

The United States (US) on Thursday urged Guyana to eliminate all forms of discrimination against disabled persons, and mildly hoped that the South American country would eventually allow same-sex marriages.

Addressing a reception at the Marriott Hotel to mark the US’ 239th Independence Anniversary,  Charge D’Affaires of the American Embassy, Bryan Hunt welcomed tge June 26, 2015 ruling in favour of marriage by persons of the same sex.

He said the US was ready to use that landmark decision to pursue another path towards equality of all. In that regard, he hoped that Guyana would eventually follow other American allies like South Africa, Brazil, Canada and Ireland that have long ended that form of discrimination.

“It is my fervent hope that in the coming years other allies, such as Guyana, will decide to join with us in the fight for the human rights of all, including those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities,” said Hunt.

The American diplomat pledged his country’s commitment to work with Guyana in the struggle against discrimination and help make Guyana strong nation by valuing and celebrating diversity and the contributions of all Guyanese. “I strongly encourage all Guyanese to work together to meet the challenges of today and work to make a brighter future for this generation, and for generations to come. The United States is committed to continuing to work with you as a friend and partner in this struggle,” he said.

Hunt said that there are those who continue to fight against the extension of the basic human right to marry regardless of sexual preference in much the same way they had opposed similar rights to inter-racial couples in the 1960s.

Guyana and several other Caribbean countries continue to be very homophobic and politicians in government are often scared to take the risk of losing support by advocating or enacting laws that favour same-sex relations or prostitution. A number of Caribbean countries still have on their law books laws against buggery, pimping, prostitution and cross-dressing. In the case of Guyana, the environment appears to be slightly more accommodating to homosexuals, in part due to aggressive advocacy locally and internationally.

The US also wants Guyana to follow in its footsteps to enforce anti-discrimination laws. “We are hopeful that the Government of Guyana can join us in our commitment to ensure that all persons, disabled or not, have equal access and equal opportunity to live full and independent lives the way they choose,” he said.

Already enacted are the GuyanaPersons withDisabilitiesAct and the Prevention of Discrimination Act.

The American envoy noted that this year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He said that landmark legislation prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life and promotes accessibility to jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

ADA, he said, opened doors of opportunity – in education, in the workplace and in many other areas of our national life for millions of persons with disabilities.