Our Readers' Opinions
September 6, 2016
SVG needs to change laws that discriminate against homosexuals

Editor: I saw the video today on the website of the Organization of American States, made about two months ago, where Camillo Gonsalves (Minister of Economic Planning and Sustainable Development) expressed solidarity, on behalf of SVG, with the victims of the Orlando mass homicide. Minister Gonsalves expressed “support in ridding the world of hate and the tools of hate.”{{more}}

This is like someone putting a plaster on an open, gaping wound that they helped to create. The Government of SVG continues to support and criminalize homosexuality, which plays a major role in the marginalization and demonization of LGBTIs in SVG. It is state sponsored homophobia, which helps to socially construct and cement LGBTIs without equality, and deny them the full rights of citizenship, that aids in promoting bigotry. What public policies, legislation and educational programmes has the Government of SVG implemented to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation?

So, no, the Government of SVG is not in agreement or united with the victims of the attack in Orlando. I find this official statement of condolence dichotomous, because the policies and inaction of the Government help to create monsters who rage violence on LGBTIs. In May 2011, Camillo, then Permanent Representative to the UN, told the Human Rights Council that there was no mood in society in SVG to decriminalize homosexuality and that the laws criminalizing homosexuality were widely accepted by society.

In 2015, the UN Human Rights Council issued a report, “Discrimination and Violence against Individuals Based on their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’” and they found that “hate-motivated violence against LGBT people is widespread, brutal, and often perpetrated with impunity”. Also, “In many countries, the law is used to punish individuals on the basis of sexual orientation”. The UN report concluded that states are legally bound by international law to protect, respect and fulfil the human rights of all people, including LGBTIs. They also recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality and the implementation of anti-discriminatory laws to protect LGBTIs from discrimination and negative stereotypes, to include public education campaigns.

Until the Government of SVG makes these changes in their public policy, their condolences are incongruent and are exacerbated, as the Government is part of the problem.

Sean Macleish