Guyanese Catholic Leaders Support Gay Rights Against Other Denominations

Guyanese Catholic Church leaders have decried the homophobic pronouncements of other Christian denominations who have claimed that homosexuality, or “buggery”(as it is referred to there), should be illegal in the country.

On June 2, the day of Guyana’s Pride Parade, the Georgetown Ministers’ Fellowship (GMF) hosted a press conference in which members of the Christian group denounced the parade as a “blemish on the social fabric of the republic.”

The GMF’s main goal of the press conference was to get answers from the current government. In the words of the only female panelist at the press conference, Valerie Leung, the group requested that the government “expressly and explicitly tell the people of Guyana in writing, truthfully what is their position on homosexuality.” Stabroek News reported:

“. . . GMF representatives declared that as representatives of the Christian community, which comprises more than 60% of the Guyanese population, it was concerned about local and international efforts to pressure government to legalise buggery in Guyana. The group has committed to praying for those caught within such a lifestyle and lobbying government against the decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

“Buoyed by the vocal support of a room filled with worshippers, Minister of the Gospel Marlon Hestick proclaimed that a gay parade is an expression of a sexuality, which is currently prohibited by Guyanese law.”

Bishop Francis Alleyne

Although GMF claimed to represent the entire Christian community of Guyana, Catholic leaders and other Christian groups have refused to stand behind the GMF’s harmful position. Contrasting the GMF’s overt expression of homophobia, some Roman Catholic Guyanese leaders and leaders of other Christian denominations have supported the rights of LGBTQ persons:

“At the launch of the inaugural LGBT Pride Festival last year, the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) said religious leaders had decried discriminatory laws against the LGBT community.”

“The launch took the form of an Inter-Faith service at the Catholic Life Centre on Brickdam, which was attended by religious persons, leaders of the faith-based organisations and LGBT persons.”

“Head of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Guyana Bishop Francis Alleyne, who co-hosted the service with SASOD, had said then that the issue of LGBT rights was a sensitive one. ‘This topic is a volatile one. There is still a lot of fear and insufficient listening to expect an objective response from people,’ Bishop Alleyne was quoted as saying in the SASOD statement.”

Despite the continued violation of human rights of Guyanese LGBTQ persons, the GMF refused to support the human rights cause of other Christian leaders. Leung, who likened homosexual acts with consensual incest, was quoted saying, “You can’t have a right to do what is wrong.”

However, the pushback to the GMF from Catholic and Christian denominations says that the “wrong” that is actually being committed is the violation of LGBTQ rights. Unlike a U.S. bishop who recently voiced his disapproval of Pride celebrations as “morally offensive,” Guyana’s Bishop Alleyne seemed more concerned with protecting the human dignity of the LGBTQ community, encouraging the country to listen rather than condemn.

–Lizzie Sextro, New Ways Ministry, June 18, 2018

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