Attitudes towards homosexuals in Guyana

Attitude towards homosexuals in Guyana

This presentation was made by Mr Peter Wickham, Director of Caribbean Development Research Services on 19 July, 2013 in Georgetown, Guyana.

The presentation is about research conducted in Guyana on the attitudes towards homosexuals. The presentation is shared with the Caribbean IRN for wide viewing.

(CADRES) concluded a national survey across Guyana which examined the attitudes of Guyanese

Audio of presentation from Dr Melissa Ifill in response to the survey report

Generally this survey demonstrates that Guyanese are largely either tolerant or accepting of homosexuals, with the quantity of persons that could genuinely be described as “homophobic” amounting to approximately 25% of the population. Conversely this means that 58% of Guyanese are either “tolerant” or “accepting” of homosexuals, while 17% were undecided.

It is also immediately noticeable that homophobia or alternatively tolerance of homosexuals correlates directly with age, sex, race and to a lesser extent religion, place of origin and education. As such, women, younger persons and Guyanese who were not born in Guyana tended to be more comfortable with homosexuals, while active-Evangelical Christians, Afro Guyanese and those who have been “less-well” educated tended to be more homophobic.

Notwithstanding the largely positive stance of the vast majority of Guyanese toward homosexuals, it is also clear that fundamental misunderstandings exist among Guyanese regarding several basis facts about homosexuality and it is entirely possible that these misunderstandings could impact negatively on attitudes. Guyanese generally think that homosexuality is largely a male phenomenon and moreover that it is a “choice”. These are two misunderstandings that carry substantial baggage.

There is also a heavy religious overtone regarding the “proper” location of sexual orientation and sexual expression, along with the presumption that the religious teaching should continue to influence the State’s agenda and treatment of homosexuals. With regard to discrimination (as manifested in violence) the survey demonstrates clearly that Guyanese do dislike the idea of violence against minorities and discrimination in all its manifestations. Moreover, Guyanese largely consider discrimination against homosexuals to be “wrong”. At the same time; however Guyanese do not seem to think that homosexuals are currently being discriminated against, or that the state needs to provide special protection for them. Interestingly, there is strong support for the provision of special protections for Persons Living with AIDS (PLWA) and while some of these persons might be homosexual, there is no strong desire on the part of the population for specific protections for homosexuals against discrimination.

The general Guyanese reaction to the legislative environment that relates to homosexuals is to say the least, conflicting. The full report can be downloaded at

Presentation from Peter Wickham