While Stirm is against gay rights and against the planned Gay Pride Event, Activist Caleb Orozco, who is a homosexual, himself, is all for it. He says it is about time that an event of this magnitude be held in Belize.
“For my good friend Pastor Stirm, I welcome his commitment to his cause and he, at least has my respect in being very consistent in his message. Like all things people have their views and whether people are committed or not it will be reflected in practice and action. Ultimately though Pastor Stirm is not the law and he cannot erode, threaten, intimidate the rights of people to walk freely, to associate freely and to express themselves freely. He may have his perception of what happens at a Pride event; for us, Pride events have occurred for many decades in this country without provocation or cause and they have been simply entertainment moments that to us are normal social fabric events that is part of the Belizean culture.”
According to Orozco, the event is an opportunity for Belize to increase its tourism industry and it is for the Belize Tourism Board and Belize Tourism Industry Association to take a formal position on LGBT issues facing the country.
“Well, for us, the problem isn’t with us; the problem is with the BTB and the BTIA in their silence and their complicity by inaction, omission and indifference, in publicly stating what their position is around the practice of discrimination and its effect on tourists. Knowing that we’ve engaged the BTIA privately and knowing their resistance to actually take a responsible stance around the rights of people to associate, express and movement; the challenge is for them is to establish internationally what climate Belize has – is it one friendly to tourists, all tourists or is it one where they’ll pick and choose which tourists are welcome to Belize. For us the ball is in the BTB and BTIA court because it’s up to them to decide whether our industry will have a black eye regarding discriminatory practices not only by religious leaders, who have issues but also by immigration officers who have a history of harassing LGBT tourists that have come to this country. Beyond that, we know that LGBT tourists have come in to this country year in and year out without a discussion or provocation. The difference with this particular event is that it has been shamelessly publicized and more people know about it. Kudos to the resort manager who has decided that he would promote inclusion. The potential for expanding LGBT through tourism is great; the question for us here is what climate we will create to welcome LGBT individuals, what climate will we create in order to integrate the kind of economic potential that is there – we simply don’t know.”
According to Orozco, shortly after the New York Times article in which he was featured, was published, the BTB had plans to issue a release but internal friction on BTB’s position made it impossible for the organization to do so.