As a senator and a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, Valerie Woods serves as a member on that organization’s board of directors. The organization executes several programs that impact issues such as: gender, death penalty, women, ocean, conservation, armed and LGBT issues. Woods attended a meeting in Bogota, Colombia last weekend and today she gave Love News an update on how she hopes Parliamentarians for Global Action can impact Belize.
Valerie Woods – PUP Senator: “In Bogotá Colombia, over the weekend which coincides with the date of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. That weekend coincided with that date, there was a series of panels at this Annual Leadership Forum of where Parliamentarians with LGBT activists get together just to discuss progress, challenges and how to communicate with Parliamentarians about the issues that the LGBT Community is facing. I was asked by the Victory Institute which is an NGO I believe based in Washington if I would participate in one of the panels that assembled Caribbean Parliamentarians, how they work with LGBT activists and how that has been going so far. Since I have been appointed a Senator I have had the opportunity to meet LGBT activists not just in Belize but from around the world. One of the important lessons for me has always been that listening to people stories carries a lot of weight and should allow any Parliamentarian to appreciate the humanness of what is happening to people, especially people who are marginalized. In the Belize context as a Parliamentarian, it tugs at me every time when we say something publicly but we are not really practicing it in our official capacity as members of Parliament. In December of last year, the State of Belize signed onto several recommendations, first time ever accepted so many recommendations as apart of its universal periodic review on human rights and many of those had to do with addressing the issues of LGBT in Belize. I finally got a response on the U.P.R.recommendations, I got that from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and what their next steps are so I am in the process of reviewing that. I am very thankful that my many emails have been responded to by CEO Patt Andrews and his team there, that they are making an effort to not let my request go on deaf ears and that they responding to a Parliamentarian asking about next steps. I will definitely stay on the emails with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see exactly how long it will take and what all it involves either by policy or by legislation on those many recommendations that they finally have accepted and agreed to. I am going to be optimistic in that, at least one area which is the Anti Discrimination Bill. By all indications, we should be participating in something coming to the Parliament hopefully sometime in this year.”
Woods says she hopes the anti-discrimination bill will be brought to the senate before year’s end and that bipartisan participation will also be encouraged.