The National Gender Policy coupled with the ruling on Section 53 by the Chief Justice had created some waves with the Churches and after several meetings with the Government of Belize, Prime Minister Dean Barrow decided that a Church State Commission would be put in place. Deputy Prime Minister, Patrick Faber has been heading the commission which came about in September 2016. Faber spoke on the commission’s mandate.
“Remember that this was formed out of the response of the churches and wider community of the section 53 ruling of the Chief Justice and so there were areas of concern that the church had as it related to those issues coming out of the ruling of the Chief Justice. So this is in an effort to work with the churches to see what measures can be taken in order to address those concerns that they’ve had and also we had one other issue outside of the Chief Justice’s ruling and it had to do with the gender policy; people remember that in fact the gender policy was discussed at a one day session with the Prime Minister after it was approved by the cabinet and put into effect and there were concerns raised by the churches; those recommendations have never really been accepted by the cabinet and one of the issues that the commission agreed to work on when we started meeting was that we would then have a session dealing with the gender policy. We’ve had multiple sessions and in fact we are not at a position where those issues are being presented back to the cabinet, in fact I tabled the paper yesterday in cabinet and it was deferred for a week so that we will have discussions next week Tuesday and hopefully approve a new version of the gender policy that will be pleasing to all who are concerned.”
According to Faber, the commission has been meeting regularly and they are looking to conclude in early June.
“I am chairing the Church State Commission I don’t know where the name ‘morality commission’ came from and I kept on trying to dissuade people from using that name but the Church State Commission meets very frequently, we met in fact yesterday and in fact we are looking to finish the work of that commission by the 7th of June. So we meet very frequently there is active participation from six church entities that I believe represent all the churches in Belize; we have the council of churches, the two evangelical groups, we have the alliance of churches which Patrick Menzies is a part of and is a leader of so we have all of these entities meeting. We’ve had about five or six meetings and we look forward to the work coming to a close on the 7th of June in a two day working session.”
The Church State Commission does not have the authority to make policies but their report will include recommendations to the Government of Belize on matters of national interest.