Speech delivered by the President of GCCI at the Business & Human Rights Seminar

Written by Clinton Urling, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Welcome

Work of SASOD Commendable

Commend SASOD for the sterling work they have done over the past 10 years in its fight for human respect and equality through ending discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.  10 years is indicative of your long-term commitment and dedication to the cause at which you advance for the betterment of our society.  Your voice and tireless advocacy efforts have certainly informed our citizenry, changed perceptions and attitudes of bigotry and intolerance and have resulted in actions to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by policy and other stakeholders.

Business

Now it is our turn in the private sector. This is the first collaboration between the GCCI and SASOD and it is a partnership that will continue into the future.  The aim of this seminar is to inform and acquaint you, our private sector representatives, on issues relating to discrimination and exclusion on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the work environment.  I hope you all leave here with a better understanding and appreciation of the issues and you go back to your companies and start your own internal discussions on developing or in some cases strengthening company policies to stamp out these forms of discrimination.

We need to get the message out that Sexual orientation should have nothing to do with our evaluation of how well people do their job.

National Law

Only recently on November 7th the US Senate voted and approved a bill outlawing employment discrimination (Employment Non-Discrimination Act). Now the bill is being debated in the US House of Representatives.

It is time that our own policy makers in Guyana advance legislation that would end workers discrimination and ensure that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation.

In the US, it took the senate 20 years to get this bill passed and in the Congress, where it is now being debated, it has failed to passed since being first tabled in 1974. So, it will not be an easy battle but one in which we have to advance to ensure that Guyanese fundamental human and civil rights are protected.

In all these situations it took adaptive changes to effect this. The citizens and people were part of the problem and changing their attitudes and beliefs were key to enacting the necessary legislation. That is the important role of SASOD and what this morning seminar seeks to do.

Good Session

Wish you and the presenters a good session this morning and I look forward to hearing from you as you provide feedback to the Chamber and SASOD and I also look forward to future collaborations with SASOD on human rights and equality issues as commit to ensuring a discrimination free society.