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…in order to reduce ranks’ homophobia, discriminatory treatment of LGBT persons By Michael YoungeThe Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is working closely with the hierarchy of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to tackle the continuing problems of how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people are treated whenever they seek law enforcement and criminal justice services.This is according to SASOD’s Homophobia Education Coordinator Anil Persaud, who explained that over the years the organisation would have been embarking on a number of measures aimed at re-training and training new Policemen and women on how to respond professionally to complaints from LGBT especially when their human rights are violated or when they are accessing general services.“I can tell you that LGBT people have the same rights and entitlements as any other group of persons residing here. They are not asking for any special treatment as their rights are basic human rights. Therefore, they must be treated professionally and respectfully,” Persaud argued.He admitted that from time to time, there are complaints from LGBT people about the high levels of discrimination they face from Policemen and women when there is an altercation or a need to seek services, but Persaud maintained that there has been massive improvements in the conduct of some law enforcement personnel as a result of the direct intervention of SASOD, its partners and other LGBT lobby groups.“We are not there yet, but we are getting there…”, he said as he explained that SASOD continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Police Force and this relationship can only improve over the next few years.So close is that relationship that Persaud disclosed that SASOD volunteers act as an emissaries or support units for LGBT persons who are fearful of venturing to Police Stations alone to file complaints.The Homophobia Education Coordinator denied that there was a marked increase in the number of persons complaining about the quality and type of treatment meted out to them by the Policemen especially following the staging of the recent Gay Pride Parade through the streets of Georgetown.In fact, he denied that there was a rise in homophobia and intolerance for the way of life of LGBT people following the Pride Parade. He defended the Policemen saying that anyone who felt differently was free to access the services at SASOD and have their cases documented.For years, LGBT people have complained about the fact that whenever they seek the services of certain Police Stations within A, C and D Divisions, they are mocked, discriminated against or turned away.One account given by an LGBT person in the media as of recent stated that the Policemen were targeting a group of ‘differently-gendered’ men in order to arrest them to prove a point.“The Policeman asked me if I am man or woman…and I said I am a gay man. My friend said that he was a woman and the whole patrol started to laugh and insult him,” the LGBT person recounted.