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Aug 3, 2017

For Belize LGBT’s, Pride is Showing

Next Thursday, August tenth, marks a full year since Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck down Section Fifty-Three of the Criminal Code outlawing sexual acts other than consensual heterosexual intercourse, between man and woman. The matter is being appealed by several church bodies and partially by the Government of Belize. But the United Belize Advocacy Movement and its allies say they are not going away and intend to make Belize safer and more inclusive for their members – otherwise ordinary Belizeans. The first ever Pride Week officially kicks off on Friday and today in Belize City, members of the community spoke out on camera on how the past year has changed their perspective and strengthened their resolve to continue the fight for equality. Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

One year on since Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin’s historic decision against Section Fifty-three of the Criminal Code, what exactly has changed for Belize’s LGBT community? Do they now have a greater voice, an opportunity to be heard; finally, the right to live peacefully without having to hide their sexual or gender orientation? Yes and no, says the plaintiff in the case, Caleb Orozco.

 

Caleb Orozco

Caleb Orozco, Executive Director, UNIBAM

“Things have changed psychologically, but systematically, or formally within government and legal institutions, not much has changed.”

 

And that is the reason for Pride Week – a series of events intended not only to celebrate the decision, but also to welcome the rest of Belize into the LGBT sphere and begin and continue a discussion on important issues that directly impact the LGBT community as well as the greater society. Derricia Castillo-Salazar, president of the pro-LGBT and family-oriented ‘Our Circle’ N.G.O. explains.

 

Derricia Castillo-Salazar

Derricia Castillo-Salazar, President, Our Circle

“Looking at the judgment of the case to today, it’s evident in all of our organizations while we can say our memberships are of whatever number, there are people within our organizations who have stepped up, who have become empowered, not only become empowered as LGBT persons, but have become empowered as citizens of Belize; and have demanded, because of the education that stemmed out of the case and stemmed out of the trial, become educated and empowered to move forward, to move the LGBT movement forward. Because we are at a point now where yes, we’ve gained success with section fifty-three, but section fifty-three is just the start, so at the point saying yes we have a voice, we have a right to be heard.”

 

For Ifasina Efunyemi, the secretary of Belize’s first organization supporting lesbian and bisexual women, PETAL, the message of inclusion and equality is also important to spread within the still closeted LGBT community.

 

Ifasina Efunyemi

Ifasina Efunyemi, Secretary, PETAL

“The bottom-line is that if we were living in a just society – which was my response to my colleagues in advocacy – if we were living in a just society and a just world, there would be no need for these groups, there would be no need for advocacy; because basically everybody, whether they were of dark complexion; whether they were poor or rich, whether they were educated, no matter what political affiliation they had, what belief system they followed, or who they choose to love – if everybody were treated equally in our world, there would be no need for these organizations. There would be no need for a Pride Week, for example, because at the end of the day we would always be comfortable as human beings, and we would always be able to celebrate who we are, no matter what talent we have or what experience we come from. The reality is that even in this beautiful Jewel of ours, all of its citizens do not enjoy the same rights and that is the reason why advocacy is necessary in our country. So having a Pride Week and having all the activities we are having, the organizations we are engaged in, are necessary so that we can enjoy the same rights that every other citizen enjoys, and I have to say that Section Fifty-three was not just an accomplishment for the LGBT community – it was an accomplishment for all citizens of Belize because it has to do with our rights as citizens.”

 

For all the parties and launches of Our Circle’s Resource Center and Family Guidebook for LGBT families, the big day itself, says Orozco, takes them back to the Supreme Court.

 

Caleb Orozco

“The invitation is extended to those persons who believe in the idea of the Constitution, to hold up a very specific message around how the Constitution is valued; to hold up a specific message around the value of human rights, and this would include any citizenry who feel marginalized for any reason. I think this is important because when you look at Belize, you can see red, brown, black and whatever additional color and every ethnicity that exists here, and I think it’s time we understand that respect for diversity has a practice, it has an application to everyday living, and when we look at our history, it is about peace and security, and not our differences.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Other organizations participating include the Belize Youth Empowerment for Change and Empower Yourself Belize Movement, which addresses issues of health for vulnerable populations including but not limited to LGBT persons.

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2 Responses for “For Belize LGBT’s, Pride is Showing”

  1. Belizean pride says:

    oooh Jeez, hmm this don’t sound good for our community the majority having the minority try to bring this shit to our Jewel. Where is the gov to stop this shit, mein we’re getting on the wrong path already.
    Belize Youth Empowerment for Change and Empower Yourself Belize Movement what are you guys thinking????? Come on wake up, don’t be doing things because of pressure from a minority agenda. Unless your organization is sucking from the U.S who is trying all they can to have other countries accept this agenda of LGBT.
    Come on Belizeans please let us not accept this kind of thing, slowly they have been bringing this agenda and sooner it will be schools trying to implement the trans bathroom policy also.

    holy smokes!!!!!

  2. Rolando Williams says:

    Belizean pride: There’s nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. Get over your hate and fear and stop blaming the U.S. for everything. If the Belizean LGBT movement has an agenda, it’s to stop violence and hate towards gays and lesbians, something we should all support.

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