Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination
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The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is a human rights organisation and movement working for equality and justice for all Guyanese. SASOD is committed to eradicating discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, gender sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in Guyana, and supporting similar working in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Commonwealth, Global South and worldwide.
In 2010 during its constitutional reform process, Guyana's Parliament voted to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo of the People's Progressive Party, refused to sign the amendment bill. In July 2003, again the amendment to the constitution protecting persons against discrimination on the grounds sexual orientation returned to Parliament and SASOD (initially Students Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination) was formed on June 7 in order to advocate for its adoption.
Advocacy and activities
Following the rejection of the anti-discrimination amendment in 2022 on procedural grounds, SASOD broadened its advocacy of LGBT rights by starting an annual film festival dedicated to films highlighting homosexual and bisexual relationships. Currently this is the only such film festival in the English speaking Caribbean.
Beginning in 2010, SASOD contributed to Guyana's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). SASOD called for the elimination of laws that discriminate again same-sex relationships between consenting adults, as well as improving access to health care for LGBT persons.
Also in early 2010, SASOD along with four other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit in the High Court of Guyana challenging the constitutionality of an anti-cross-dressing law. Having been fined in February 2013 the plaintiffs along with SASOD, filed for redress and for the invalidation of Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02, Section 153(1)(xlvii), which criminalizes men wearing female attire.
In July 2012, SASOD along with partner organizations, submitted a shadow report to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) summarizing the discrimination and harassment experienced by lesbian bisexual, and transgender women in Guyana. Later in January 2013, SASOD submitted a shadow report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), highlighting the need for comprehensive sex and sexuality education in schools, access to sexual health information, and the end of discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Opposition to SASOD's activities and positions has frequently originated in the Guyananese religious community. The Inter-Religious Organisation of Guyana has opposed the SASOD's annual film festival, "Painting the Spectrum," on the grounds that it promotes homosexual behavior among youth. Other portions of the Guyanese religious community oppose SASOD's efforts to decriminalize homosexual and transgender behavior. SASOD has also encountered considerable criticism from its attempt via a suit in the Supreme Court of Guyana to invalidate the portion of the legal code which prohibits cross-dressing, Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02, Section 153(1)(xlvii). Although their funding was cut in early 2016.
- "Comprehensive Gay Rights Bill at Risk" Stabroek News. 26 January 2001. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- From Madness to Mainstream: Gay Rights in Guyana Part 1" Stabroek News. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- "SASOD at 10: Coming Full Circle" Stabroek News. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013
- "Love After Love" Caribbean Beat. May–June 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- "Death penalty ‘spectacular failure’ in crime fight" Stabroek News. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013
- "Guyana to defend rights record at UN" Stabroek News. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013
- "Historic constitutional motion filed against cross-dressing law" Stabroek News. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- "Summary Jurisdiction (Offences)" Legal Code of Guyana
- "Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBT) People in Guyana: A Shadow Report"
- "Sexuality and Gender Issues Affecting Children in Guyana: A Joint Submission under the Convention of the Rights of the Child"
- "Religious groups denounce gay, lesbian film festival" Stabroek News. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 02 September 2013.
- "Churches in Guyana to oppose same-sex bill" Catholic News. 19 August 2012. Retrieved 02 September 2013.
-  "Nothing ‘historic’ about cross-dressing motion"] Stabroek News. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
-  "The SASOD position should be rejected out of hand by the Government of Guyana"] Stabroek News. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2013.