LGBT rights in Guyana

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LGBT rights in Guyana
Guyana (orthographic projection).svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Male illegal.
Female "indecent acts" illegal.
2 years in prison for gross indecency between men, 10 years in prison for attempted buggery, life in prison for buggery
Gender identity/expression Unknown
Military service Yes, according to the Army Chief of Staff Commodore
Discrimination protections None
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage illegal
Adoption Unknown

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Guyana face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Guyana is the only country in South America where homosexual acts are still illegal. Under the laws of Guyana, homosexual acts carry a possible punishment of life imprisonment.

Laws about same-sex sexual activity[edit]

According to the Criminal Law (Offences) Act of Guyana:[1]

Section 352. 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 any act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.

Section 353. Everyone who-

(a) attempts to commit buggery; or

(b) assaults any person with intent to commit buggery; or

(c) being a male, indecently assaults any other male person,

shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for ten years.

Section 354. Everyone who commits buggery ... shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.

Section 355. Everyone who-

(a) does any indecent act in any place to which the public have or are permitted to have access; or

(b) does any indecent act in any place, intending thereby to insult or offend any person,

shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.

The law does not specifically define "buggery", "gross indecency", or "indecent".

Decriminalization effort[edit]

Following a call from Dr. Edward Greene, the United Nations Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS to the Caribbean, to decriminalize homosexuality,[2] the Guyana government announced in April 2012 that it was launching a national debate on whether to overhaul the country's laws that discriminate against LGBT people. Religious groups voiced their opposition to any changes in those laws.[3]

In 2013, the Government created a Parliamentary Commission to decide whether to scrap the country's buggery laws. It will start receiving public submissions in early 2014.[4]

Discrimination against LGBT persons[edit]

In December 2000, the National Assembly of Guyana unanimously approved a proposed amendment to the constitution that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the efforts of religious leaders prior to the March 2001 elections caused President Bharrat Jagdeo to deny his assent to the amendment.[5] A new amendment, containing only the sexual orientation clause, was put before the assembly in 2003,[5] although it made no progress and was later withdrawn by the government.

Although laws regarding homosexuality in Guyana are not known to have been enforced in recent years, discrimination against LGBT persons is widespread in Guyana due to the heavy influence of Christianity and Biblical law, in both social and political norms. British law criminalized same-sex activity which stood well after Guyana's independence, and created a homophobic society. The vast majority of Guyana's population frown upon homosexuality. LGBT persons continuously face violence and verbal harassment in Guyana, at the hands of law enforcement, religious leaders and others. and because of this, most keep their sexual orientation hidden.

Same-sex marriage[edit]

According to a document published in October 2006, same-sex marriages are illegal in Guyana.[6]

Adoption of children[edit]

According to the U.S. Department of State, an LGBT person is not disqualified from adopting a child in Guyana. Both married and single people may adopt.[7]

In December 2015 the Director of Guyana's Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), stated that the CPA does not discriminate as there are no laws barring homosexual individuals and same-sex couples from adopting, being foster parents or guardians. The statement also encourages LGBT individuals to become adoptive parents and reiterates the lack of legal barriers as the Director of the CPA can issue a mandate determining which potential applicants can adopt under the Childcare and Protection Act.[8]

Military service[edit]

Army Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best declared in November 2012 that the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has no problem with same-sex relationships.[9]

No one is discriminated against at the GDF. So, same-sex relationships is not a problem but how persons conduct themselves.[9]

Best's statement came after the GDF sanctioned two female soldiers for engaging in a sex act with each other. A video of the act was leaked to the public.[9] The sanctions caused former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran to criticize homophobia in the disciplined forces as well as the government's evasive approach on the issue of same-sex relations.[9]


According to a recent poll carried out by CADRES titled 'Attitudes Towards Homosexuals in Guyana',[10] about twenty-five percent of respondents "hate" homosexuals, while thirty-nine percent are "tolerant" and nineteen percent claim they are "accepting". A 2010 Vanderbilt University study found that 7.5% of respondents support same-sex marriage,[11] while a 2013 CADRES study found the figure to be 14%.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Up to life imprisonment; not enforced)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples Emblem-question.svg[12]
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Emblem-question.svg[13]
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]