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Jan 12, 2022

Human Rights Defenders Concerned About Religious Affairs Minister’s Statement

Derricia Castillo-Salazar

Today, an open letter was sent to the new Minister of Religious Affairs, Henry Charles Usher on comments he made earlier this week. In an interview to the media about his new portfolio, the Minister Usher spoke of “merging the public service with….Christian fundamental principles.” The statement is not sitting well with the LGBT human rights organization Our Circle.  They say 2022 is the year to advance discussions around the proposed equal opportunity bill.  News Five spoke today with Our Circle Managing Director, Derricia Castillo-Salazar about their concerns.


Derricia Castillo-Salazar, Managing Director, Our Circle

“For us, we believe that that sets back our human rights, our activism that we’ve been doing and the advancements that we have been making in human rights – that sets us back decades. To be fair, we have persons within our clientele who are very religious and subscribe to the Christian faith; we have those who do not subscribe to the Christian faith and we have those who may even identify as atheist. But the reality and the underlying situation is that despite their religious affiliation, they are entitled to the same human rights as everyone and that’s pretty much what we have been championing for years as a country. And to be honest, we were very well-engaged in the last general election – not only Our Circle, but human rights advocates were very engaged in this last election. And it was Honorable Henry Usher’s party that promised us a move forward to equality and we were guaranteed that discrimination was not the founding principle of the government in at this moment. We do hope that it was a matter of misspeaking and hence the reason we are asking the Honorable Henry Usher to please make a statement, give us hope as human rights defenders, give us hope as Belizeans that our human rights will not be trampled by religious persecution because we don’t subscribe to what is considered principles.”


If you want to find out more about the concerns, Castillo-Salazar will be a guest on Open Your Eyes morning show on Thursday.

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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