Tanya Lopez’s Future is Looking Bright After PETAL’s Intervention
About a week ago, we brought to you the tragic story of thirty-seven-year-old, Tanya Lopez, who was seeking help with a difficult situation she was battling with. Lopez was being harassed by her neighbours for several months, which even led to her being physically attacked. After the story aired on Love News, one of Belize’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, PETAL reached out to Lopez to offer assistance. Reporter, Giovanna Moguel, got an update today. Here is that story
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Today, Tanya Lopez is in better spirits compared to when we last spoke to her about a week ago. The thirty-seven-year-old King Street resident was subjected to months upon months of torment and abuse from her neighbors who are also her own cousins. Lopez says this dreadful situation started because she identifies as a lesbian. It is because of her sexual orientation, Lopez was constantly disrespected and those verbal assaults escalated to physical blows. However, Lopez’s situation took a pleasant turn when PETAL, a leading LGBTQ+ advocacy group, caught wind of her story.
Tanya Lopez, Abuse Victim: “Thank God so far since Love FM News has been helping me I’ve gotten assistance, I also got assistance help from PETAL Ms.Charrice. I also got a lawyer to help me with my situation and from since then I haven’t been receiving any kind you know to make me feel like any less than a human or a woman or that I don’t deserve to be loved because all of us are God’s children as long as you’re not disrespecting anybody you know everybody is entitled to live their life who is gay or who is not I just believe that everybody is entitled to live their life as they please as long as they’re not hurting anyone or disrespecting anyone.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Lopez turned to the media out of desperation after growing tired of the constant harassment and vandalism to her property. She feared that by doing this, her neighbors would retaliate and become more aggressive; however, she says the opposite has happened.
Tanya Lopez, Abuse Victim: “One or two still try but it’s something that I got the bigger help with that I didn’t have any kind of help with so the little minor that they’re trying I just have to continue to pray to God and ask him to continue guide me too because I’m not a troubling person. I believe in life life and everybody enjoy the life the way they do so just like how I enjoy mine I don’t want anyone to try to stop me because I won’t stop anybody from enjoying their lives.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: PETAL’s president, Charrice Talbert, reached out to Lopez to offer support. One of their biggest concerns was for her to be able to formally file her report with the police. Talbert says that this is an ongoing issue that many LGBTQ+ individuals in Belize face.
Charrice Talbert, PETAL President: “We have a legal review desk here at PETAL and what we found is that a number persons from the community that identifies as an LGBT+ person that wherever they go to the station and want to make a report there is always some kind of hindrance from them making that report either from being ridiculed, either them just not wanting to take the report because I have accompanied several persons as well to make reports and one of the things that occurs is that almost like they can’t make a report. I had to get into a situation with an office where I made them aware that a person has the right to make a report whether it’s just a future reference report they should make a report if an incident occurred so that in the future should anything else occurs there is a statement there.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Now that she is making headway with this situation, Lopez is looking forward and is hoping to create a brighter future for herself. She is currently on the hunt for employment; however, she has had to face discrimination… again due to her sexuality.
Tanya Lopez, Abuse Victim: “I’m not a lazy person. I’m not a fighter. I’m into family, I’m into being love and give back love and be happy and work and make money and taking care of not only myself and my family and a few people.”
Reporter: What kind of work are you currently looking for ?
Tanya Lopez, Abuse Victim: “Well Miss my hard work I do all kind of work. I’m well experienced in security. I work maintenance I just love to work.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Talbert concedes that although the community tries to be more progressive in certain situations, this is a difficult trend that the organization has been trying to break.
Charrice Talbert, PETAL President: “What we do we do have partners that we work with and so what we do is we would refer them to agencies that we know are more LGBT friendly where we know that they may have spaces that employ these persons if there is any ads that come out that we know of looking for persons to do certain jobs then you know we refer it their way. Sometimes these jobs are not necessarily what they’d like to do but it is an opportunity and we would share that with them. It’s very unfortunate that in a lot of these spaces we don’t have the legislation that protects citizens like every citizen. It is not that you should always be looking at who I sleep with, if I am a lesbian and I come is being a lesbian or I am putting my sexual orientation on application a part of the application process? And if you do happen to find out what that is why does that play a role in the work that I’m doing?”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News.