Continuous violence and harassment deprive the LGTBI+ community of their full rights to life, security, and freedom of expression. As the only country in the Americas outside of the Caribbean where same-sex sexual relationships are still illegal, Guyanese authorities and society tend to view homosexuality and transgender and non-binary people negatively. Human rights defenders working on LGTBI+ issues are constantly threatened and physically assaulted. The LGTBI+ community experiences daily violence and abuse on the streets, with these incidents usually treated with impunity and unreported: both because the authorities often don’t acknowledge them, and because the community is often afraid of being mocked or ridiculed when they do so.
With laws that discriminate people on the grounds of their sexuality and no legal prohibition against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, Guyana is also the only country in South America to criminalize homosexual acts, which carries a punishment of up to ten years imprisonment. During 2018, Guyana celebrated the striking down of the law banning cross-dressing in public “for an improper purpose” (the Criminal Law (Offences) Act of Guyana passed in 1893) by the country’s highest court. This law was weaponised to criminalize transgender women.