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Apr 17, 2015

And the Survey Says… Homophobia is Down in Belize

What’s the sentiment of Belizeans on LGBT persons? A poll that was done about a year and a half ago shows that people are generally more accepting and that Belize is only one of two countries polled in the Caribbean of which this can be said. Another survey tested attitudes and shows public support for action on child abuse, domestic violence, sex education and discrimination toward a number of other social issues. UNAIDS Caribbean released those findings and more today at the press conference. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has this report.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey (CARIMIS) on public attitudes to sexual and reproductive health, abuse, violence and discrimination related to HIV and homophobia polled seven hundred and seventy three people in Belize in November 2013.  While the findings released to today show positive —, there are also areas of concern.

 

Ernest Massiah

Dr. Ernest Massiah, Regional Director, UNAIDS Caribbean

“Number one, I would say is, compared to the other countries, with the exception of Surinam, Belize is more accepting than a lot of the other countries. There is something interesting and important that is happening in Belize, where we see that thirty four percent say they would accept someone if they were gay or homosexual; that is three out of every ten people; that is one out of every three people. That is quite significant and a very good progress in a Belizean Society. When we look at the information that we have on domestic violence, on the hand, you ask people have you seen or been a victim of and a friend or family member of domestic violence, and fifty five percent are saying yes. They know of a case of domestic violence and that is a high percentage and that indicates that there needs to be serious work done to prevent domestic violence and serious work to ensure that the perpetrators of domestic violence face the full brunt of the law.  I think it also reveals that some changes need to be made how we do confidentiality in our health care so that people who are HIV positive are identified and can get treatment. But just the basic for people coming for testing. Let me put it in a nice language, “their business will be in the street” if they come in for testing because there isn’t confidentiality.”

 

The results of the survey also showed that over eighty percent of the respondents have done an HIV test. Around ten percent have tested positive. And as was revealed, majority of the men are less likely to take a test and seek medical services. The Ministry of Health says that this is a challenge that they are trying to address.

 

Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of HIV Programme, Ministry of Health

“I think what we need to do and I think that the strategy that we have been trying to do for the last two years is to engage more men to go and get tested and seek services. Because as you rightly said, there is only thirty three percent that have a viral load that is practically undetectable. But that is generally men in Belize don’t have health seeking behaviors, so that is a component that is very weak for us. What we have done is to move away from traditional VTC sites only, where in some facilities, men are being offered HIV testing more routinely. That’s one, and two perhaps where our strategy has changed is, for example, we are gearing up for regional testing at the end of June. We are going out to sites where mostly men are working, BWS, and bigger companies and targeting men. We are not targeting men having sex with men, but to simply engage men into seeking more prevention reducing risk; prevention strategies, that is where we are going.”

 

Dr. Ernest Massiah says to adequately address the areas of concern highlighted in the survey requires a collaborative effort of all partners involved.

 

Dr. Ernest Massiah

“Number one, the issues that we covered in the survey is difficult social issues. The first thing that needs to happen is national dialogue on these issues. There are different views what we have in the polls of the population, but there are segments of the population that have different views. All views need to be heard and based on the facts and analyses. There needs to be a discussion with all the parties about the issues and on the basis of that, then what the policy decisions that need to go forward are. What the poll does is that it provides a basis of very difficult and thorny issues that are affecting the population.”

 

And to have that conversation, would require accepting some of the realities- that one in five babies is born to a teen mother in Belize. And perhaps, that is why respondents believe that pregnancy prevention and sex education should be taught in high schools.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“The vast majority are saying that that there should be comprehensive sex education at the secondary level and that has been a weak area for us. That is a prevention strategy. Perhaps more striking for us, is a vast amount of persons that were sampled said that it would be okay for condoms to be made available at a secondary school level. Of course, that is just date that is coming out for us. For us as a ministry, how do we take that particular data that is there with prevention strategies at the high school level to ensure that it isn’t just giving somebody a condom, but all the other preventative measures you can do with that. And it’s not just for HIV, but for other sexually transmitted infections. Because we tend to shy away from talking about sex period, but we know that there is a lot of sex happening at the secondary school level.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “And the Survey Says… Homophobia is Down in Belize”

  1. MNHG says:

    “There is something interesting and important that is happening in Belize, where we see that thirty four percent say they would accept someone if they were gay or homosexual; that is three out of every ten people; that is one out of every three people. That is quite significant and a very good progress in a Belizean Society. ”
    WHAT YOU SAY ABOVE IS A BIG FAT LIE !!!!
    BETTER YOU GO READ THE HOLY BIBLE, EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT OUR CREATOR. And stop pushing the gay issue in Belize, YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT, WE BELIEVE IN GOD.

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