Laws in Guyana contribute to high HIV rates

University of West Indies coat of arms

University of West Indies coat of arms

Laws against LGBT activities in Guyana have led to harassment, discrimination, vigilante justice and high levels of HIV infection in the LGBT community, according to a report from the University of the West Indies Faculty of Law in Barbados.

In Guyana and 10 other Caribbean countries, anti-LGBT laws have contributed to an increase in HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men, said Juliet Bynoe-Sutherland, director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS.

Guyana’s overall HIV infection rate is estimated at 1.2 percent, but about 19.4 percent of Guyanan men who have sex with men are infected, according to the United National AIDS Report of 2010.

The author of the report, anthropologist Christopher Carrico, said that his interviews with 25 Guyanese citizens showed that:

“Many of the respondents were fearful of reporting crimes that had been committed against them because they believed or were told that charges would also be brought against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, the researcher deducted that many of the crimes committed against sexual and gender minorities “are enabled because perpetrators think they can act with impunity, or even believe that they are privately enforcing the law”.

The study found examples of discrimination in the workplace and limited access to health care for LGBT people, the news website Demerara Waves reported in an article titled “Life is hard for Guyana’s gays, lesbians.”

Guyana is in the midst of a review of the impact of its laws against homosexual behavior, with an eye to possibly repealing them. Current laws prohibit cross-dressing; “acts of gross indecency with male person,” which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison; attempted “unnatural offenses,” up to 10 years in prison; and buggery, up to a life sentence.

The study said some of these laws are not often enforced, but still have serious consequences.

“There are many ways in which judgments are made, and punishments are meted out long before there are trials,” reported the Guyana Times website.

The project was funded by the British High Commission for Guyana, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

14 thoughts on “Laws in Guyana contribute to high HIV rates

  1. Pingback: Jamaican clergy fret: Hate sin but treat LGBT sinners? | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: Fatal flaw in official anti-AIDS declaration | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Guyana might free South America of its last anti-LGBT law | 76 CRIMES

  4. Pingback: Panel will focus on anti-LGBT laws in the Caribbean | 76 CRIMES

  5. Pingback: Guyana suit seeks to end anti-transgender ‘dress code’ | 76 CRIMES

  6. Pingback: Guyana man will advise World Bank on LGBT poverty | 76 CRIMES

  7. Pingback: Nations push Guyana to repeal anti-LGBTI laws | 76 CRIMES

  8. Pingback: Shock, grief over death of fearless Guyanan activist | 76 CRIMES

  9. Pingback: Guyana president takes aim at his nation’s anti-gay law | 76 CRIMES

  10. Pingback: Guyana: More talk of change, but no action | 76 CRIMES

  11. Pingback: Support for LGBT community grows in Guyana | 76 CRIMES

  12. Pingback: Activists challenge Guyana’s anti-trans stance | 76 CRIMES

  13. Pingback: Guyana plans referendum on its anti-gay law | 76 CRIMES

  14. Pingback: Activists to Guyana: Don’t put human rights to a vote | 76 CRIMES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s