Friday, January 7, 2011
A coalition of religious groups in the tiny South American nation of Guyana has issued a condemnation of a local LGBT film festival, calling the event a "new form of Western colonialism."
"We cannot allow the Western world to come and foist their lifestyles and thinking on to us; this will simply mean that we are just allowing a newer form of colonialism," said Inter-Religious Organization (IRO) spokesman Juan Edghill, a bishop. Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Baha'is make up the IRO. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), which is organizing the week-long festival, would not immediately comment on the IRO's criticism. The disagreement comes as the mostly former British colonies in the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have made repeated calls to scrap laws against buggery as part of efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination against groups vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Edghill said the religious community wants gays and lesbians to have rights to health care, education and housing, but that the IRO worried youths were being exposed to unnatural sexual activities with the dissemination of material about homosexuals.RELATED: The U.S. State Department has issued a strong caution for visitors to Guyana, where street crimes, abductions and murders by organized gangs are common.