Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Guyana LGBTI Resources

(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists) 

Guyana’s criminal law penalises same-sex acts between men.

  • Section 352 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act defines the offence of ‘committing acts of gross indecency with a male person’: ‘Any male person, who in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission, or procures or attempts to procure the commission, by any male person, of an act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.’
  • Section 354 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act defines the offence of buggery: ‘Everyone who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature, shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.’

Proposals for a constitutional amendment to entrench non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, as well as a 2004 proposal by Guyana’s health minister to decriminalise homosexuality in order to assist HIV/AIDS prevention, were rejected by the Guyanese government and parliament, whose spokesperson announced in December 2004 that there was no intention to address any amendment on sexual orientation.

Same-sex acts between women do not fall within the scope of these criminal offences, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Under section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, cross-dressing, defined as the ‘wearing of female attire by man; wearing of male attire by woman’, is classified as a minor criminal offence. According to Human Rights Watch, this colonial legislative act provides for adjudication of such cases without jury.

CASE LAW

AB v The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration [2009] FC 640: although the applicant was granted temporary protection rather than refugee status due to the applicability of Article 1F of the Geneva Convention, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that ‘the harassment and discrimination of homosexuals in Guyana could amount to persecution’ (para 31).

Ali v Mukasey 529 F.3d 478 (2nd Cir. 2008): although the case concerned procedural issues, the US Court of Appeals agreed with evidence that an applicant would be exposed to a risk of torture under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture upon return to Guyana due to his sexual orientation.

On s. 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act:

McEwan and others v Attorney General of Guyana (Constitutional Court, 6 September 2013): ‘cross-dressing in a public place is an offence only if it is done for an improper purpose’.
The ruling has been criticised by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination and other human rights groups for leaving broad scope for the provision to be applied to prosecute cross-dressing.

PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE'S CAPACITY TO PROTECT

In February 2009, seven men were convicted and fined for cross-dressing under the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, reports Amnesty International. Upon arrest, they were mocked by police officers, who ordered them to strip off their clothes, photographed them and ‘searched’ them, and they were then kept in solitary confinement until the day of the trial, according to Human Rights Watch.

Four men among those convicted brought a legal challenge before the High Court to declare the provision unconstitutional. On 6 September 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled in McEwan and others v Attorney General of Guyana that the police had violated the constitutional rights of the applicants and ordered a compensation award.

LGBTI persons are often reluctant to report crimes against them for fear of being charged due to their sexual orientation, according to Amnesty International’s 2013 report. This is also confirmed in the findings of the Federal Court of Canada in AB [2009] FC 640: violence against homosexuals is rarely reported due to ‘fear of police brutality and sexual violence’ (paras 19, 23). In an earlier report commissioned in 2006, Amnesty International reports that LGBTI persons conceal their orientation even from their friends and family.

Furthermore, Amnesty International explains that the portrayal of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a ‘gay plague’ has led to a close association of the disease with male homosexuality. Against the backdrop of criminalisation of same-sex acts between men, men who have sex with men have no access to HIV/AIDS treatment, care or prevention programmes, according to the same report.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)

We do not currently list any NGOs working with LGBTI persons in Guyana, but we welcome suggestions. 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS

We do not currently list any specialists on LGBTI issues in Guyana, but we welcome suggestions.

 

 

Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis

Email: minosmouzourakisatgmail [dot] com

 

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