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Dec 20, 2016

United Nations Votes for Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation Issues

Caleb Orozco

The United Nations is set to appoint an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, following three contentious rounds of voting at the international body in New York City. Belize has consistently voted in favour of LGBT rights issues at the U.N., and on this issue twice voted in favour of appointing the expert. But that changed on Monday, when Belize’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Lois Young, erroneously voted in favour of an amendment by African countries to defer the appointment. Blaming a “mix-up” or communication error, Belize approached U.N. staff to correct its vote on the record to go against the deferral and in favour of the appointment. While it is not clear how the gaffe occurred, the initial vote pleased Belize Action, the Christian advocacy organization, which opposes the appointment. In an email on Monday, it asked persons who participated in its campaign against the appointment to write to Ambassador Young saying thanks. However, that plan is on hold. It is a victory for those such as United Belize Advocacy Movement’s Executive Director Caleb Orozco, who was following the vote from Belize. Today, he told us that the first-ever appointment is important – and not as harmful as some believe.

 

Caleb Orozco, Executive Director, UNIBAM

“Belize essentially voted in favour to defer the resolution for the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity; but because there was some kind of confusion as to instructions, Belize then filled out a form to correct itself from in favour to against the amendment, which is reflective of the historic position of Government when it comes to human rights for any one of its citizens.”

 

Aaron Humes

“Can I ask you if you have verified officially what you explained with the mix-up and the error in communication in New York that led to what happened on Monday?”

 

Caleb Orozco

“I immediately emailed the mission to try and get an understanding of what’s going on, and I got an email back which essentially clarified that there was a form filled out to correct what was issued as a public vote in the original standing of the voting process.”

 

In defence of its position, an earlier email from Belize Action proclaimed that it does not support violence and hate against LGBT persons; however it does not want the United Nations disregarding the right under its own Conventions to religious freedom. In related news, Orozco will be travelling to London, England later this week to formally accept the David Kato Voice and Vision Award for his activism in overturning Section fifty-three of the Criminal Code. He will be participating in a number of speaking engagements.

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