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Feb 5, 2020

Over 5,000 Signatures in Objection to Equal Opportunities Bill

When consultations took place in the south, there was an overwhelming opposition to the posed bill. Over five thousand signatures have now been affixed to several documents circulated within the religious community where objections are being raised to the Equal Opportunities Bill.  News Five spoke by phone with Pastor Vic Hernandez; he is the president of the Southern Evangelical Association of Belize.  While he stopped short of describing the movement as a petition, Hernandez said that the objections are based on concerns being raised by the church community.


On the Phone: Pastor Vic Hernandez, President, Southern Evangelical Association of Belize

“We reject the Equal Opportunities Bill.  We represent over one hundred churches in the south and as was demonstrated by the over three thousand people that we brought out to the consultation in Punta Gorda, right, that we do not and cannot accept this bill.  Somehow we believe that giving us four days notice before the consultation is, I mean that‘s not doable.  I mean you have the consultation on a Wednesday and we did not get a copy of that bill until the Saturday which I believe is the same time the consultation started in San Pedro.  So that didn‘t give us much time to go through the bill but when we did go through the bill we found several things that we could not agree with on that bill.  One of them we looked at as, we believe that the freedom that we now enjoy and that our constitution allows us to enjoy is in jeopardy.  We also firmly believe as people of faith that this bill is designed to empower the LGBT community and to take away the freedom from our churches .  Also this bill is dangerous because it forms a commission and a tribunal again to take away that freedom.  Then we have a problem with the definition of the word gender in this bill and the inclusion of the word sexual orientation.  So when you look at this, there‘s a lot of, I would say there are some very good things in this bill but there are also some other things in there that we have a lot of problems with.  We believe that the partnership that had existed between our churches and the step when it comes to education is definitely in danger.  We believe that and so what we have done is that we had a meeting with all our churches, our member churches.  We sat down and we looked over it and we could not agree with it and so we asked them to please go back to your churches and get people within their churches to sign onto what we are saying and then we will write it in a letter to the National AIDS Commission which we did.  On the thirtieth of January, we sent a letter to the National AIDS Commission telling them why we cannot support the bill and attached to that was five thousand, one hundred and thirty-six signatures from fifty-five different communities and over one hundred churches and most of these were not only signed by churches but they were also stamped by the alcaldes and by the village leaders in Toledo.”

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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