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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AFP) -- Guyana's multi-religious community strongly condemned on Monday a gay and lesbian film festival, branding promoting homosexuality as a new form of Western colonization.
"We cannot allow the Western world to come and foist their lifestyles and thinking on to us; this will simply mean that we are just allowing a newer form of colonialism," said Inter-Religious Organization (IRO) spokesman Juan Edghill, a bishop.
Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Baha'is make up the IRO.
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), which is organizing the week-long festival, would not immediately comment on the IRO's criticism.
The disagreement comes as the mostly former British colonies in the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have made repeated calls to scrap laws against buggery as part of efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination against groups vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Edghill said the religious community wants gays and lesbians to have rights to health care, education and housing, but that the IRO worried youths were being exposed to unnatural sexual activities with the dissemination of material about homosexuals.
The IRO insisted its position would not aggravate homophobic sentiment in Guyana, where gays and lesbians usually do not face routine assaults but are generally frowned upon and taunted in public.
Several months ago, SASOD made a court filing challenging the constitutionality of colonial laws against cross-dressing after several gays were arrested by police and prosecuted for the offense.