The media was hosted this morning for a breakfast meeting to discuss the strengthening of LGBT families in Belize. There are over one hundred and sixty LGBT families in the country who are not legally recognized under the laws of Belize. The two-hour session highlighted the gaps in the system which excludes an LGBT person and their children. In one instance Derricia Castillo-Salazar alluded to the different types of family settings and how the laws do not adequately reflect Belize’s reality. The food assistance program was an example that she used to simplify how unrecognized they are.
Derricia Castillo, Managing Director, Our Circle: “If we look at the way these grocery bag systems are put up there’s not much leverage to support families that are headed by LGBT persons because it ties a lot within the Social Security system we see that the LGBT couples who are already not supported by Social Security schemes are further disadvantaged particularly because the families, the head of the families aren’t considered in legal relationships. So when catering to a family as opposed to it being a two adult family it would be considered a one adult and however much children are being catered for as opposed to looking at the entire family because of course these same sex persons are not legally covered as families here in Belize. Social Security is a big thing and I’m sure it’s something you’re going to be hearing a lot when we start challenging some of these systems which exist because with the Social Security system we’re paying into these systems. If we have children within our households it’s only the biological parent that can provide that support or that protection for the children within our families and another big thing is looking at the reality of COVID. COVID to some point is synonymous to death so at some point it will be where if something were to happen to one of the partners who is not the biological parent of that child then there’s the possibility of family members coming from nowhere, not being integral in that child’s life and disruption what has been their normal family up to date. We also have issues such as medical power of attorney where if my partner were in the hospital with COVID complications God forbid and a decision had to be made her biological family would have more say than me who we’ve been residing with each other for years and because of not being considered or counted under common law relationship we would definitely not be afforded the same respect of opportunities that are available for our heteronormal counterparts.”
Another important point was the social security scheme which reportedly disenfranchises the children and other beneficiaries of LGBT persons.
Derricia Castillo, Managing Director, Our Circle: “We created a public policy team where we’re looking at the laws which definitely create some form of difference between our families and the families of persons who are in heterosexual relationships. So we’re doing that review to be able to submit a recommendation of all the laws that we see are creating the most discrimination and we’re going to be submitting that through the parliament to be able to get some form of redress in regards to getting that security that our families deserve and we also have identified some of the economic hardships when it comes to securing families such as ours. For instance like I made mention earlier a common-law would kick in after five years but for us it takes us having to do an annual power of attorney which has a cost of about $600 every year, it takes us having to create a will so that whatever inheritance we want to leave for our partner and our children is secured. It’s not automatic as if we were given the term common-law or if we were considered as spouse. So for us we look at the hardships, the economic impacts it has and we try to provide those services free or minimal cost to the LGBT community to be able to secure their families and their children.”
Prior to the elections Prime Minister John Briceno had committed that the social security scheme would be revised under his administration.