Wednesday, May 17, 2017

IDAHOT Remarks from European Union Ambassador Jernej Videtič

Ambassador Jernej Videtič, Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Guyana (Neketa Forde Photo)

The Honourable Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs,

The Honourable Dr George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Members of the Media,

Other Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good evening,

Together with millions of people around the world, the EU celebrates the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. On IDAHOT day itself, the EU Delegation in Guyana will proudly fly the rainbow flags which you see here [gesture left and right] on our office building, in a very public show of support for Guyanese people who are fighting for human rights for all. IDAHOT is a timely opportunity to remind Governments around the world of their obligation to promote the universality of human rights and ensure that everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, enjoys these rights without discrimination.

For the European Union, our position is that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, or LGBTI, persons are protected under existing international human rights law, and that LGBTI persons have the same rights as all other individuals — no new human rights are created for them; but neither should any be denied to them.

To be more specific: when speaking about the rights of LGBTI persons, we’ve always made it clear that it is not about introducing new or different rights for one group of people. It is about the same human rights being applied to every person everywhere without discrimination.

The EU, similarly to the United Nations, is committed to the principle of the universality of human rights and reaffirms that cultural, traditional or religious values do not justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI persons

In recent years, remarkable progress has been made around the world to advance the enjoyment of all human rights for LGBTI persons. Several countries have decriminalised homosexuality and others have enacted new statutes to protect individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. None of these changes could have happened without the dedication of courageous activists working to advance equal rights for LGBTI persons – activists such as many of you here this evening.

Great obstacles remain in many places around the globe. Discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons is still widespread, unfortunately including in Guyana. The EU condemns discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals in the strongest possible terms. 

During Guyana's most recent Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations, it was recommended that Guyana change its laws in order to guarantee better protection LGBT persons; especially the laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy and cross-gender dressing which, are discriminatory. In response Guyana agreed “to strengthen the protection of LGBT individuals” and “to continue its effort in eliminating discrimination against LGBTI people starting with the review of its related legislation”.

The European Union therefore encourages the Government of Guyana to repeal the laws criminalising same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing. We fully support the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination - SASOD - and other Guyanese human rights activists in their efforts in this area.

The EU is funding projects worldwide aimed at improving LGBTI organisations’ visibility and acceptance, enhancing their dialogue with authorities to change laws, combating homophobia, and protecting LGBTI persons from violence. Support is also given to training, information and legal support to LGBTI persons and civil society organisations. Such projects have been funded here in Guyana, primarily in cooperation with SASOD. We worked together on very successful projects on combating discrimination through advocacy and strategic litigation, through empowering civil society to combat discrimination in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and strengthening the public policy advocacy skills of Guyanese civil society organisations.
The EU will continue working with partners in Guyana and around the world to advance the human rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Thank you.

No comments: