IDAHOT 2018Veteran Trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis, on Wednesday said fundamental rights and freedoms are of paramount importance and ought not to be trifled with, adding that marginalised groups need to continue being vocal while intensifying their efforts to ensure the structural deficiencies are corrected.Veteran Trade Unionist Lincoln Lewis“As an organised demographic, where you are not only citizens but workers and voters, you’re urged to intensify the use of your power to ensure the structural deficiencies in society are corrected. Those who seek your vote must know support is contingent on moving to eliminate systems that militate against you,” Lewis said, while addressing a gathering at the Canadian High Commission’s reception to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).This year IDAHOT is observed under the theme “Alliances for solidarity.”Lewis said history is the testament to suffering of marginalised groups and it is a struggle that must not be viewed with disdain.“Your right to exist, participate as equal members of society and to be so treated is equally important as others. Respect for the heterosexual orientation of one must too ensure respect for the diverse orientation of others. I don’t have to like your orientation nor you mine in order to respect each other consistent with protected human rights and freedoms,” he noted.“And this brings me to the issue of laws in our statute books that criminalise conduct which today has been decriminalised among consenting adults consistent with universally acceptable tenets. Evidently, you are aware of the clauses in the Criminal Offences Acts which run contrary to safeguarding your constitutional rights. These laws were instituted by the British colonial authority. Britain has since excised them from their statues yet Guyana holds on and justifies their existence. Over the years, I have observed voices raised in condemnation and highlighting their archaic nature. Your voice must not be still or grow weary until modernity is attained,” Lewis added.The trade unionist said progressive societies are moving forward and Guyana must get in line and proceed and urged the LGBT community to not give up the fight.Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chattergee committed her Government’s support to ensure that everyone has access to equal rights.She noted that through international assistance, Canada supports the advancement of LGBTQ2 human rights. This, she noted, includes providing training to LGBTQ2 human rights defenders and working with local grassroots community organisations.“We understand that countries are at different stages of acceptance and engagement on this issue. However, we should never forget that the human rights of all persons are universal and indivisible, and these include the human rights of LGBTQ2 persons,” the diplomatic stated.In addition, she believes that all countries should commit to decriminalise same-sex conduct; combat violence and discrimination that target LGBTQ2 persons; and support the work of grassroots LGBTQ2 organisations.Despite repeated calls for the decriminalisation of the anti-buggery laws, the Government is adamant that it would have to go to the people in a referendum.