Even as the members of the Law Reform Commission are yet to be appointed, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is hoping that the commission will address all archaic laws, especially those that cut into the rights of the gay community.

This was recently articulated by Managing Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson.

Simpson told Guyana Standard that Guyana has a long way to go to catch up with the modern world when it comes to matters relating to gay rights.

During an interview, Simpson stressed that the amendment to the Prevention of Discrimination Act is SASOD’s main priority. Nevertheless, the human rights advocate said, “We do believe that parliament, in the context of a Law Reform Commission, should just repeal sections 351 to 353 of the Criminal Law Offences Act which criminalise same sex intimacy, buggery, and attempted buggery.”

He said that SASOD noted with interest that the Ministry of Legal Affairs has been making moves to establish a Law Reform Commission “and we are waiting to see the work of that commission which should include sweeping the law books of all the colonial era legislation that has no time and place in an independent civilised modern, democratic state like Guyana.”

Simpson made reference to the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling last year that Guyana’s cross dressing law is unconstitutional and “highly undemocratic” and that efforts should be made to remove other similar laws as well.

Simpson said, “Now that we have the CCJ striking down the law against cross dressing, all those other provisions and vagrancy type laws under the Summary Jurisdiction Act should be deleted from our law books.”

The Law Reform Commission bill has been passed since 2016. A building is being rented for the commission at a rate of over $800,000 per month, but commissioners are still to be appointed.

Last month, Attorney General, Basil Williams told the media that three commissioners were shortlisted and would be sworn in upon the return of President David Granger, who was receiving medical treatment in Cuba at the time.

However, though the president has been back for weeks now, nothing further has been said about the swearing-in of the commissioners.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has been complaining about the millions wasted over the last two years on rent and secretarial staff for the commission.

The Law Reform Commission Act of 2016 essentially mandates the commission to reform and upgrade all possible legislation in Guyana to ensure that they are in line with international best practices.


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