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Jun 6, 2013

P.U.P. wants G.O.B. to withdraw gender policy

When the national gender policy was launched in mid-May, it immediately unleashed a firestorm of controversy from very vocal church groups and most recently, the Belize National Teachers Union. The most outspoken opposition has come from the west, where local pastors have led the charge to have the gender policy withdrawn and revisited. Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Wednesday made light of the opposition to the policy, stating that it is led by a few in the Church as opposed to the Church. The P.M. made his stance clear, stating, quote “there is no way on earth that government will withdraw the policy.” Notwithstanding that hard line approach, dissent continues to mount, and the People’s United Party has also called on the government to pull back the policy. Mike Rudon has that story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

On Tuesday leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca met with forty pastors from the Cayo district to get their views on the national gender policy. Shortly after that meeting the PUP issued a release calling for the complete withdrawal of the gender policy in its current form. Louis Wade is one of the pastors who led the discussion.


Louis Wade

Louis Wade, Pastor

“We had over forty pastors representing different churches as ministries who assembled with the Leader of the Opposition yesterday because we felt that we needed more leaders to hear the concerns that church leaders have. First and foremost, the issue of lack of consultation on a gender policy that has significant ramifications. That policy says that it is creating the new world which we hope to enjoy. It also speaks to the fact that that policy is the foundation for all other policies and agencies and finances, and international contact with the nation of Belize. So to have such a fundamental change in how the family will be structured and education and all these institutions function together, we believe that the church needed to have the proper kind of consultation.”


Within that document, both the church leaders and Fonseca found some common ground in the belief that in its current form, the gender policy is unacceptable and revisions are absolutely critical.


Louis Wade

“Come on man, let’s clarify terminology, let us speak to language; let us understand when you say all services what does all mean. Because apart of all services includes marriage. Pastors don’t just marry people. Marriage is done when the government issues a marriage permit, then a marriage officer is able to conduct his business. And marriage is not only carried out in the church, it is carried out within the government sector as well. So those kinds of clarifications are very necessary which is why there was the call for the total withdrawal until proper consultations were made.”


Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition

“The document speaks about essentially legalizing prostitution. That is not something that the P.U.P. supports at this time. And I think when that was brought to the attention of the government, I think even the government has said they intend to remove that specific paragraph in the gender policy.”


Francis Fonseca

Fonseca says that their call for the complete withdrawal of the gender policy is based not so much on the content of what he calls a progressive document, but on the fact that the widespread opposition from the churches and teachers cannot be ignored, and if it is the gender policy will sit on a shelf gathering dust.


Francis Fonseca

“Because of the discussion that is taking place; because many of the representatives of the church community have taken such a hard stand against certain statements that are in the gender policy and certain proposals that are being advanced in the gender policy—and this is also being supported now by the Belize National Teachers Union. And what I see happening is that if we do not put a halt to moving forward, if we do not take a step back and say listen for the good of the gender policy, for the good of the country, let us withdraw it in its current form…let us allow the teachers, let us allow the religious community to take a very complete comprehensive look at the policy, offer their recommendations. As I said to them yesterday that doesn’t mean that their recommendations will be accepted, but they should be given that opportunity.”


That seems reasonable, and both Fonseca and Wade have their own opinions on why Prime Minister Dean Barrow has taken such an inflexible stance.


Francis Fonseca

“It’s arrogance, it’s arrogant leadership. Not being prepared to dialogue, not being prepared to say listen even though I don’t agree with you—because he can take that position and say he does not agree with what you are proposing—we have a different interpretation of what the policy means. Even though we can have that difference of opinion, I think leadership requires that you allow people an opportunity to have their say.”


Louis Wade

“I think I can understand why the prime minister is so defensive of his policy. If you really think about it, first of all they couldn’t even realize that their own policy contained the decriminalization of prostitution; he couldn’t find that. Secondly, after that huge launch, they had to pull out a clause, a very deadly clause, which speaks about equality trumping religious and cultural belief. However, pulling out those two clause alone, that concept is throughout the entire document. So after cabinet secretary says I didn’t read it, you have ministers of government who say we didn’t read it; and then you have the prime minister who admitted that he didn’t read it—probably he has read it by now—I can understand why he would want to be adamant because one has to save face.”


With rising opposition facing off against the hard line position of the PM, the success of the gender policy is not guaranteed. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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5 Responses for “P.U.P. wants G.O.B. to withdraw gender policy”

  1. Rod says:

    Judas cares about nothing he is another Obama he needs to be locked up for thief and murder he is a baby killer so therefore his new name will be. Judas barrow baby killer.

  2. meandy says:

    Why should these churches who pay NO taxes be dictating what needs to be in our Gender Policy. How many FEMALE leaders represent churches? What can the churches leaders who ban women from leadership position teach a child about gender equality? come on. Like Ricardo Arjona sings . . . “There are more religion than happy children in this world” (en el mundo hay más religiones que niños felices) it is so true, just look around your village or town. to ask for a total recall? you must be out of your mind. Just because Stirm and wade didn’t get what they wanted from the PM they turn to the opposition? Fonseca, can’t you see how they are using you?

  3. ceo says:

    Much ignorance on your part Rod! The GOB is not a church and it should not be run by one, like one, nor for one. Churches have their agenda and they should be allowed to practice, but Belize should be run by its government and it should afford every Belizean the same rights a privillages. As Belizeans we will never all agree but to survive as a nation we need to find a way to live in peace.

  4. Jackie says:


    The P.M. made his stance clear, stating, quote “there is no way on earth that government will withdraw the policy.

    Always Remember – who put you there can bring you down. The public is getting tired of the ARROGANCE and condescending manner of this man PERIOD

  5. karlaa says:

    Why cant we have stop so much hate… gay people have rights not to be descriminated. It is unbelievable how much damage and hate the church brings to humans in the name of god. we are all belizeans and have riight to live in peace even if we do not agree.. That is the fabric of todays society.. there is plenty other critical issues that the churcch should be addressing if their heart was where their mouth is.. there is a lot of ignorance and mis informatiion out there too. These LGBT people have mothers, brothers, sisters,aunts,, uncles and i am not sure if people arre blind but nowadays there is one in almost every family or we know one in our neighborhood. We love our gay relative and believe this hate should stop…the world is changing and advancing and we need to move on to more important things that is really hurting the moral fabric of our society and i do not see the church there….

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