A study in Belize last year showed that 78% of transsexual persons do not believe the laws protect them and close to 90% of men who have sex with the same gender say that they do not trust law enforcement officials to provide equal treatment under the law.

The statistics indicate that in our society discrimination against gays, lesbians and transsexuals is still very much in effect. In an ongoing effort to raise awareness of and speak out against such discrimination, yesterday organizations like the United Belize Advocacy Movement, Caribbean Regional Trans in Action and the Pan American Social Marketing Organization all joined to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Today we spoke to Caleb Orozco, President of UniBam, who told us more about the organization and about yesterdays event.

Screen_shot_2011-05-18_at_6.45.12_PMCaleb Orozco- President – UniBam

“And it’s high time in our country that we change from the pure ignorance and pure intolerance to sense of responsibility educate what actually is sexual orientation, what actually is sexual identity by using the right space approach without the restriction or the sense of shame or the ignorance that it displayed in certain media quarters.”

There have been many instances in the past year where homosexuals have been the objects of discrimination because of their sexual preferences. Orozco explained that the stigma and discrimination in some cases has gone so far that the rights of the individual have been abused.

Caleb Orozco- President – UniBam

“There are certain quarters who have assumed that abuse, assaults; murders do not happen in Belize on a gay people have any reason to be demanding rights. In that regard, we highlighted two points to explain the assumption the discrimination doesn’t happen in Belize. I personally for over twenty eight years have experience verbal abuse, intimidation and violence for over twenty eight years and I have been able to still function in civilized manner despite the experience, in particular in regards to Belize we have spoken about the Jose Garcia’s case, Jose for those of you who don’t know him was forced out or school because of his expression, I don’t know anybody who would like to be forced out of school who is doing good at school and José has not gone bad, there is another thing we highlighted which was Quetzal experience in Port of Spain Trinidad where she experienced the mishandling or the attempted humiliation by immigration officers where she told to stay at the corner and have people observe her like some object or other thing. Now in our society here in Belize I can say that state does not official say go and assault sexual minority groups in this country, but the symbols of the state and minority symbols of the state have insisted to perpetuate in this country in ways in which they take for granted with the assumption that persons who experience discrimination will not report their experience formally because their experience has happened, because of the symbol of the state. In that regard we would like to, my organization is highlighting on a strong point that whilst certain quarters in media would not advocate for assaults to sexual minorities, their inflammatory language, their disrespect and disregard to educate people about the issue to sexual education and sexual identity does perpetuate the very violence they don’t assume to advocate.”

Joining in yesterday was CRTA, Caribbean Regional Trans in Action, which was formed in order to eradicate the hate, stigma, discrimination and to advocate for education when it comes to the topic of gays. Since then the organization has been working in our country with the gay and lesbian community. Mia Quetzal, a well known activist, explained more.

Mia Quetzal- CRTA

“It came about 2009 because of the invisibility or the modernization of the community faces there has been different organizations in Latin America but as I said is this Latin country in the Caribbean countries like Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize mostly speak English, hence the reason the organizations like SITAG, UNIBOM and another organization in the Caribbean from Jamaica came about to building the Caribbean Regional Tran genius Organization. We have came to Belize and we have funded last year so we have been working with the Tran general community for a year now, in Belize we have made different surveys around the country and try to get attention and visibility on the Tran general Community what came about of that is that there is definitely been speaking about the discrimination stigma that the Tran general community faces there is couple of Tran genders around in Corozal and Belize and even Cayo that have faces discrimination and because there is a lot of trust in the agents meaning the uniform agents didn’t go and report these cases so most of the cases of discrimination stigma that the community faces always come unnoticed, always come punished and so on.’

In Belize the CRTA is undertaking the fight for the rights of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals rights which include employment, protection by the law and health services.

Mia Quetzal- CRTA

“In 1990 the scientific agencies around the country declared that homosexuality was not a mental illness since then in 1990, we started commemorating in May 17th, the day against Trans phobia and homo-phobia, hence the reason that we are here trying to put a light on that because are all entitled to basic human rights, which are the right to work, you know, right employment, right to have housing, right to protection from uniform agents, we have the right to basic education and the most important is the right to health, I mean without this basic human rights what are we to do , aren’t we a part of the community and a part of society, we are all human and we are all entitled to that.”

The international day was observed under the theme: “If you know a homophobic help.” If you would like more information you can call 670-1273 or 673-5641.

Today when we spoke to Caleb Orozco, President of the United Belize Advocacy Movement he also took the opportunity to talk to us about the lawsuit involving sexual orientation being brought against the Attorney Generals Office.

The lawsuit challenges section 53 of the Criminal Code which states that “every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

Orozco explained their challenge to that section of the criminal code.

Caleb Orozco- President – UniBam

“Section 53 is a constitutional case presently in the court that speaks to activity around anal sex basically. Well we are simply trying to do is to get a reading to amend the present section 53 that allows sexual intercourse with consenting adults and make sure that the law does not apply to that amendment . In that regard the hearings are schedule 13th, 14th, 15th, and skeleton arguments are schedule for the 17th of June. We have interested parties from the Humanity Trust , The Common Wealth Lawyer Association, The International Commission of Juries, and a group who has been leading the charge from day one which is a raft, The Right at the University of the West Indies Right its’ advocacy project , Christopher smith.”

The first skeleton arguments are set for June 15th. Orozco says that the move to file the lawsuit has attracted opposition from different religious groups and media houses in the country. Well keep you updated.

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