The Executive Director for the United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, has prepared a document that serves as an assessment on Belize’s responsibility to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. In that 28-page document is written with the aim of highlighting the context of LGBT rights in Belize and how they are being ignored when laws continue to be written without taking these rights into consideration. Caleb Orozco spoke to Love News on the assessment.
“In 2010 we did a legal review of all the subsidiary laws and how it impacts the economics, civil and political rise of LGBT citizens. In 2011,2012,2013 we partnered with the North Western University and Michigan law clinic to develop an assessment document of the subsidiary laws and how much those subsidiary laws are inconsistent with the constitution. What we found is that while Belize has the most liberal constitution among CARICOM member states, in practice what state systems have done is thrown 16 1, 16 2, 16 3, under the bus. Now in 16 3 of the constitution it speaks clearly about what it means to have discriminatory practices. That for us was a surprise because there are certain things in subsidiary laws which violate our socio economic, civil rights and nobody has sought to address them. In the document we created we sought to list areas of reform that we considered important to our LGBT population.”
As Orozco mentioned, the document has laid out the parts of the Subsidiary Laws that the LGBT community feels are in violation of their rights. In an effort to bring about some change or amendments, UNIBAM has circulated the document to Government ministers prior to November’s election in 2015. Orozco says he is not surprised as to the response he has gotten.
“What I’ve been doing is simply raising awareness about the document and trying to get a pragmatic response as to how they could easily address the issues of non discrimination specifically in government service.”
“What has the response been like?”
“The response from state systems has been dead silence, no surprise but part of the process of knowing there would be silence is that I’m aware that the system isn’t used to or doesn’t have a working knowledge of engaging LGBT issues and a lot of time has to be spent around building awareness.”
Orozco was at a Sustainable Development workshop when he told Love News that unless mechanisms are in place to ensure inclusion, the LGBT community will remain on the edges of the sustainable development goals.
“Right now we are discussing about SDGs and the concern is that when you discuss SDGS and the idea that there is a supply and demand process in policy engagement you become even more acutely aware that where you don’t have a political voice or personal prejudice or institutional prejudice exists there will be some kind of marginalization of not only our population but all other key populations that exist in our country that would become collateral damage in this process and so there is a spirit, or the ideal of the SDGs but there is no mechanism which addresses our current culture which is minority rights must be protected but the will of the majority must prevail. For me at what cost would my population experience exclusion with this principle that the will of the majority must prevail? If I’m a citizen of this country and I have socio economic, civil political right then I believe that it is time that state systems then respond to that in a pragmatic way and in true substantive action not just through kindness and civil engagement. Kindness and civil engagement does not bring change or improve quality of life and so that is the challenge I have in engaging our discussion around legal reform and addressing the other issues that are discussed around SDGs.”
Orozco is the Executive Director for UNIBAM.