Saturday, April 5, 2014

When Belizean Politics, Dominionism, a Senator, OAS and Expression Collide

5th April, 2014

The People's United Party recently appointed Patrick Jason  Andrew  to the Senate of Belize to represent the People's United Party. But he has a history of working with our opponents at Belize action and co-hosting the show rise and shine with Louis Wade. He can be seen below holding up a sign at the Take a Stand Rally" organized by Belize action.  Supporters and allies alike ears perked up as we realized one of the tenets of the pillars was rising quietly to the surface and that was control of government. In a recent quote from Patrick Jason Andrews facebook he pointed out his clear position on L.G.B.T concerns.




His snapshot was" Let history record that we choose to die on our feet rather than live on our knees as slaves to any man(or Foreign godless agenda). For God, Family and Country." Of note, the PUP must be acknowledged for having Lisa Shoman as Senator as well, who is diametrically opposite in view when it come the the party commitment to L.G.B.T issues.

The other noteworthy individual is Julius Espat who was at the the Belize Action Stand Against Rally back in 2011, well, at the budget reading in 2014, he was called an "Apostle Homophobe," by no other that the Prime Minister himself with good reason. Who is Julius Espat, well, Area representative for Cayo South for the People's United Party and Deputy leader for the PUP.














Let us be clear that  social conservatism is not just a  PUP thing, it also has a place with the United Democratic Party with individuals like Minister Anthony Boots Martinez who appeared at a Belize Action rally in 2011 in Belize City and Zenida Moya, former mayor of Belize City who appeared in the constitutional marches against the gender policy and UniBAM in 2013.



Boots back in 2011 spoke of the following words at the take the stand rally for Belize Action,"“My position is that God never placed anything on me for me to look at a man and jump on a man. I’ll be clear on it … How would you decriminalize that, I am sorry, but that is law. Not only is the law made by man that is a law made from the Bible. Why do you think God made a man and a woman, man has what woman wants, and woman has what man wants, it’s as simple as that. I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep that law.”At the United Belize advocacy Movement, we are not talking about religious belief, we are talking about outright hostility as hate speech. Cumulatively, governance under a constitutional framework matter, as it must serve all citizens well. While most of these people may not have incited direct hostility, their presence in government be it former or not, invites complicity of indifference and inaction that undermine fundamental rights and freedoms. When a balance of rights enforcement and protection, respect for diversity and the principle of inclusiveness can be of substance, only then, can L.G.B.T citizens be assured that government exist to support rights consideration and not rights restriction.

The issue of free speech has also appeared on the scene after our presentation at the Organization of American States headquarters that was made on March 28th, 2014. We did not imagine hate by symbols of the state. Our supporters got snapshots of a police officer named Dion Guzman saying on facebook the following:


"bun fya pan dem...dont want to say the words dats why god created eve fu adam and no steve fu adam dem worthless piece a.....bun fyaa" When a police officer is saying this despite chapter 138 of the laws of Belize police act, its a cause for concern as it builds no confidence in the police department ability to address any issue professionally.

This issue of hate speech is not something we imagine, its something that exists in the next snaphot from Armando as he can be quoted at saying"I don't think these freaks of nature should be imprisoned, they should be burnt at the stake." This comment was made right after a big fat lie mentioned by Louis Wade who spoke of "They want to jail us for saying homosexuality is a sin. They want the bible labeled as hate publication, they want to make it illegal to give money to churches that preach against homosexuality UNIBAM just wrong."



Back on  November 17th 2011,an individual with the handle General made an online comment on a channel five story regarding section 53 that we inserted into the OAS presentation that speaks to feeding individuals to sharks. A snapshot of the person online comments reveal exactly what we were saying.

"...Godfrey Smith and Lisa Shoman.....pack dem up and the rest of nasty people and drop dem out a sea pas the reef….. and let the sharks eat their body parts that they don’t know how to use.”
below:



We dont imagine hate speech, we document it!

Source:http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/60793
Source: http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/96794







Thursday, April 3, 2014

When Belize Opponents Knowledge of International Human Rights System becomes embrassing

April 3rd, 2014




American Scott Stirm circulated an email  that spoke to OAS presentation made by Caleb Orozco of UniBAM and Stephen Diaz of B.Y.E.C on 28th March, 2014. The presentation can be seen herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKN7ClwGSLA&feature=youtu.be 



The email pointed out the following:


"... that Belize is “perpetuating hate speech,” because someone wrote Orozco a note saying “not even dogs do this.” (9 min 15 sec into video, also 13:30)," but if Scott Stirm listened closely, the presentation spoke to an Amandala article, not to someone writing Orozco. 

The email also spoke to a resolution to ratify the ‘Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity’  at the OAS” last year in Guatemala. (6 min. 10 sec into video)." To show, how these people do not know what they are talking about, its important to note that there were two resolutions, one that spoke to Human Rights Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Gender Expression (AG/RES: XLIII-O/13 2807) and one that spoke to the Inter-American Convention against all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (AG/RES. 2804 (XLIII-O/13). There was no such resolution named ‘Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity.  The OAS website further clarified in the following way:

"The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is taking place in Antigua, Guatemala, today adopted the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance and opened them for signature."

The email continued with saying that " This resolution was SO EXTREME that the US and Canada, both pro-gay, VOTED AGAINST IT!!"  This is rather confusing because we know that the US and Canada did sponsor  their so called, " Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity" They of course need to figure out what they are talking about first. 

The email spoke as well in its subject line as "filing a complaint at the OAS". Mr. Stirm, if you simply did your home work, you would know that we did not file a complaint, but made a presentation of our concerns which was constructive, that was designed to raise awareness about areas of concern with the state and offered an opportunity for formal  and informal dialogue. Further more, There is no charge because a hearing is not a petition. The claim referred to the objections raised by Belize to the text of the resolution AG/RES. 2807 (XLIII-O/13) that was adopted by the 43rd General Assembly of the OAS. The resolution was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly, with footnotes of countries that raised objections (but did not abstain because there was not a vote, but a consensual adoption). The resolution was presented by Brazil and co-sponsored by the United States. It was supported by Canada as it results from the acts of the discussion of the General Commission on June 6th 2013, in La Antigua, Guatemala. Again, it was adopted by consensus by all 34 OAS member states.

In the hearing there was no reference to failing to ratify the resolution. A resolution is a non-binding legal instrument and cannot be ratified. Only binding instruments of international law (i.e. conventions, treaties, optional or additional protocols) require ratification by member states following signature.

By signing and ratifying on January 8th, 1991 the Charter of the Organization of American States adopted in Bogota, Colombia on April 30th, 1948, whose article 106 establishes the creation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Belize recognizes the authority of the Commission, also by virtue of section (e) of the preamble of the Constitution of Belize that acknowledge the respect for international law and treaty obligations.


Added to this email was the discussion of American Scott Stirm and Belizean Louis Wade of Plus TV Rise and Shine this morning where Louis Wade spoke of UniBAM giving Belize a Black Eye and the need to declare UniBAM "persona non grata." Louis Wade calling for the "Belizean people to demand the disbanding of UniBAM", is ironic as he made that comment (for the suspension of  right to association) moments after he accused UniBAM of wanting to "take away the rights of others". That seems to be one of his new talking points… disband Unibam (hmm, maybe he likes that Nigera law against pro-LGBT associations?) Furthermore,calling the presentation,"a demonic pack of lies straight from the pits of hell!" led to a level of denial that violence and discrimination is not experience by L.G.B.T citizens in the country. Scott Stirm spoke of our Agenda, but failed to discuss the Dominionists agenda that is shaped by Belize Prayer Network led by George Ferrar whose site spoke of answering to BEAC or Belize Evangelical Association of Churches.



Which by they way is supported by  fringe leader, Rick Joyner, far rights president of The OAK Initiative. How do we know? well the site of Belize Prayer Network tells us. This snapshot shows him admitting  support below:




It is clear when they suggests that only Caleb Orozco have access to the OAS, is to ignore the schedules that existed for the week and the many hearing the IAHRC had from March 24th to March 28th, 2014. The hearings included many presentations about the death penalty, torture, indigenous people, democratic Rule, killing of Journalists, Maternal Health, Criminal Justice, gender-base violence as well as LGBTTI issues. The list can be found below in links at the end of the article.

   The inter-american human rights system was born with the adoption of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in Bogotá, Colombia in April of 1948. The American Declaration was the first international human rights instrument of a general nature. The IACHR was created in 1959 and held its first session in 1960. Since that time and until 2009, the Commission has held 134 sessions, some of them at its headquarters, others in different countries of the Americas.
     The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity. Created by the OAS in 1959, the Commission has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (“the Court” or “the I/A Court H.R.), installed in 1979, the Commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights (“IAHRS”).
 
The work of the IACHR rests on three main pillars:

  • the individual petition system;
  • monitoring of the human rights situation in the Member States, and
  • the attention devoted to priority thematic areas.
 The mandate can be further reviewed in detail at the links below that describes the guiding document of the IAHRC. Furthermore, to tell people about our desire to for special rights, takes with the other hand, what both parties have acknowledged with the other hand. They even acknowledge LGBT Human rights in an example where an assault takes place. Stirm and Wade are professional propagandists, who copy messaging for US Evangelicals groups who invert a communication to their advantage,  their skill is so good, even I can believe it, if I don't fact check.

 
Source:http://www.oas.org/en/media_center/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-227/13 
IAHRC Schedule:

Source: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/sessions/docs/Calendario-150-audiencias-en.pdf

Inter-American Convention on Discrimination and Intolerance
Source: http://www.oas.org/en/sla/dil/docs/inter_american_treaties_A-69_discrimination_intolerance.pdf

Inter-American Cnvention on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance
Source:http://www.oas.org/en/sla/dil/docs/inter_american_treaties_A-68_racism.pdf 

Resolution on InterAmerican Convention on Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,  and Related Forms of Intolerance (  AG/RES.2805 XLIIIO/13) http://www.equalrightstrust.org/ertdocumentbank/INTER-AMERICAN%20CONVENTION%20AGAINST%20RACISM%20RACIAL%20DISCRIMINATION.pdf

Resolution on Human Rights Sexual Oreintation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression
http://www.oas.org/en/sla/dil/docs/AG-RES_2807_XLIII-O-13.pdf

Belize Prayer Network
http://belizeprayernetwork.com/ 

Inter-American Human Rights Commission
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/mandate/what.asp

Thematic Reports of the IAHRC
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/thematic.asp 

Precautionary Measures
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/decisions/precautionary.asp

Mandate of IAHRC
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/mandate/Basics/rulesiachr.asp

Channel Five Coverage
State Response
http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/97335 

Civil Society Response
http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/97338 

PlusTv Coverage
 http://www.plustvbelize.com/news/belize-lgbt-push-for-hate-speech-and-hate-crime-legislation/






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If leaders cannot publicly defend their LGBT Relatives, is there any hope in governance?

1st April, 2014



Thematic hearings at the OAS was done on March, 28th, 2014, most importantly, it was the first LGBTTI thematic hearing done for Belize in 32 years of its independence. It was constructive, engaging and informative as the Inter-American Commission asked for additional evidence of discrimination in education and employment and workplace while the state was asked about data it has on crime an violence. After the hearing, we sat down with the Commission, International partners and the ambassador to discussion the process of precautionary measures issued by the the Commission along with dynamics of mechanism.

Afterwards we met with Tracy Robinson to look at different approaches to engagement with the state on LGBTTI issues. For the first time, Jamaica and Belize was side by side with our Latin American counterparts. It was clear that the approval of  laws were not sufficient to ensure rights enforcement and protection, that established mechanism require penalities for acting unprofessional or being negligent in duties, that the issue was about addressing hearts and minds along with sufficient budget allocations and personnel to carry out investigations.



The experience is shared to make the point that political engagement matters and that its cumulative in its effects at the national, regional, hemispheric and global level. The point is made as well that Belize's political leaders have families and relatives. If they have never been comfortable in publicly defending their L.G.B.T relatives, what hope is there that they would be willing to acknowledge and invest in the protection of L.G.B.T citizens that are not their relatives.

It would be historical to see the PM, a minister of cabinet, a representative of the opposition speak about their L.G.B.T families and to see in a party manifesto, their commitment to non-discrimination. It would be valuable to see how official research could transform policy and legislative framework. 

In the meantime, L.G.B.T concerns seems to require 1). political engagement that include sensitization of terms and awarenesss raising of laws that protect and discriminate. 2). It requires an investment in mechanisms that has resources to support rights enforcement and protection 3). It requires a hearts and minds approach. 4). It requires that individual come out the closet as L.G.B.T citizenry clout in not in their public stance, but their collective private stance. Politicians cannot claim, they don't know, if they can see. Religious leaders cannot say they don't know, if they can see. Families cannot say, they are the only ones, if they can see. See, that collectively, there is a presence of diversity, with lives of dignity exercising their rights to movement, expression and association.

In 32 years of independence, Belize has never had to deal with its L.G.B.T citizenry. It leaders are now challenged to look at the laws through the lens of gender and sexuality. The issues of unemployment, education access, shelter, sexual and reproductive health, relationship security, poverty, the elderly, indigenous, children, youth all have a cross-cutting theme.  It will be interesting in the years to come to see how our governance structure response or reacts to these issues. It will be interesting to see if LG.B.T Citizens becomes collateral damage as the country progress to the next general election or integrated on the basis of respect for diversity.









Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Belizen Constitution: How Self-Censorship, Threats and Negotiations undermine rights

Posted 23rd February, 2014

The far right in Belize in 2011 started telling the Public that the L.G.B.T community  is looking for special rights and because the constitution speaks to the GOD, that any attempt to advancement  L.G.B.T concerns would be a violation of that constitution. In defense of the constitution, they had several marches around the country in 2013 and allowed an UniBAM effigy to lead one march in Toledo.




 
                   
                 


 The factual truth is that the preamble to the constitution does speak to acknowledging the Supremacy of God, but it also speaks to faith in human rights. See below the actual wording:          

                                                
 " affirm that the Nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator;"

The state, while keeping out of the debate, and rightly so, because of the competing interests, has by omission, inaction and indifference  failed to address the social disparity between citizens as is requires in the preamble seen below:


(e) speaks to…require policies of state which protect and safeguard the unity, freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize; which eliminate economic and social privilege and disparity among the citizens of Belize whether by race, ethnicity, colour, creed, disability or sex; which ensures gender equality; which protect the rights of the individual to life, liberty, basic education, basic health, the right to vote in elections, the right to work and the pursuit of happiness;….

Note, the preamble speaks to" among the citizens of Belize," it did not say except L.G.B.T citizens, and so, one can argue there is a failure of the governance structure to  response to the rights of its L.G.B.T citizens through investments in human rights education, mechanism that address discrimination, or legislative protection. The Universal Periodic Review of 2009 have come and gone without follow-up of its recommendations to do, for example, a feasibility study to explore the development of a National Human Rights Institution. In 2013, a representative of the state, Prime Minister Barrow to his credit, finally spoke of not shirking its responsibilities. However, a cabinet response would be more encouraging. One may argue, engage the state, but as we have come to learn, it takes 6 years to get new legislation revised like the criminal code amendments of 2013. The state in its 2009 response spoke of " needing a political mandate" to address reform, indicating at the time, its unwillingness to address the issue. It seems despite, its responsibility to all its people and its role under a constitutional framework, it has failed to taken steps to initiate structure and a substantive response.

In an environment, where inaction was the norm, it was important to challenge section section 53 in the Supreme Court. Like all things, there was a reaction to our action and the group Belize Action had its first, of many rallies in 2011 at BattleField park in Belize City.










The rallies where held in Independence and Orange Walk respectively,  as seen here in 2011 to support its concerns of a moral decay and a Family Forum to speak about the"True Human Rights" in 2010 at the University of Belize.  Something that was shared with them by C-FAM, a known international entity that exists to undermine rights. A speaker at the first forum was Pierro Tozzi, who showed up in Jamaica at a Caribbean Advocates meetings, in 2010, he was back, in 2011 in Jamaica on Human Rights Day and in 2012 showed up in Barbados at an conference and also for a World Congress of the Family meeting in Trinidad that was sponsored by a Justice of Trinidad and Tobago and former Minister of St. Lucia Sarah Beaubrun. See link http://wcfcaribbean2013.org/

 









Section  20 of the constitution speaks to.-(1) "If any person alleges that any of the provisions of sections 3 to 19 inclusive of this Constitution has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him (or, in the case of a person who is detained, if any other person alleges such a contravention in relation to the detained person), then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person (or that other person) may apply to the Supreme Court for redress."

The constitution speaks to my rights to address constitutional concerns in the court,  section 16 (1) speaks to  "no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory." Furthermore, section
 14.-(1)  speaks to "A person shall not be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation. The private and family life, the home and the personal correspondence of every person shall be respected." Everyone has a right to privacy, but it seems, non-state actors find it very important to talk about  "Caleb the Traitor" in an amandala news article see below:


More importantly, reduce honor and reputation to public mockery while working to advance rights enforcement and protection concerns can be considered unlawful interference. Where does the law extend its protection to "Caleb the Traitor" the gay man, the human rights advocate if there is interference or a distortion of honor as seen here:














The constitution speaks to" 3 (c): protection for his family life, his personal privacy, the privacy of his home and other property and recognition of his human dignity; and" is an important part of the constitution. The United Belize Advocacy Movement Launch a campaign called we are one in dignity and rights a couple years ago and managed to distributed 1800 wristbands, but the theme of dignity has not been lost in the organization advocacy process. When speaking about rights, its about negotiating the concerns about arming opponents with evidence of victimization, its about access to resources, its about timing and picking your battles and its about delivering a message the public can understand as individuals. When there are no formal mechanism outside of the court system, it leaves open the space of collective practice that is encouraged to undermine human dignity of L.G.B.T individuals, that goes unrecorded in crime and violence reports, in national legislation, in policy and planning development. Can you say that dignity is upheld when threats abound see below:



















Friday, February 21, 2014

LGBT Rights and US Evangelical Work in Belize 2014

Posted: 21st, February, 2014


What does this poster have to do with US evangelicals, nothing, until you look closer at the guess speaker coming at the end of the month, Dr. John Eckerdt who runs Stauron Ministries. Why is mentioning his name important, well, he can be scene here (http://www.cclmaine.org/pastors-and-church-leaders-prepare-to-defend-marriage-2/) at a meeting organized againt Maine effort to advance marriage equality organized by Protecting Marriage Maine and Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF was started in 1994, has 44 in-house lawyers and 2,200 allied lawyers with an annual budget of $30 million. According to Dangerous Liaisons, a report done by the Southern Poverty Law Centre on Belize revealed that its had incurred cost associated with its "human rights and legal work", which totaled $65,000us for Central America and Caribbean in 2009 and 2010.

Further to this, we found Patricia King back in Belize conducting sermons, this month, at the George Price Centre  in the week of  the 5th February.Why is this all important, well, King was in Belize with her associate Wesley Campbell (who organized the "Eyes and Wings at Sea cruise"). Interestingly, Campbell was implicated in a 2006 Ponzi scheme that scammed US$10M from evangelical Christians in the USA and Canada, including members of his own New Life Church in Kelowna, British Columbia (King's home town). The British Columbia Securities Commission charged that leaders of New Life Church pressured members to invest in the investment scheme by telling them it was "ordained by God". http://investorvoice.ca/PI/2722A.htm

 
Here is King and cruise member from Kelowna on a boat


Our opposition speaks to knowing nothing of the dominionists movement, we found the Belize prayernetwork site (http://belizeprayernetwork.com/ ) and its seven pillars of christian control. The site speaks of being directly accountable to the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches (BEAC) and is a branch of Tree Life Ministries which operates on the island of Caye Caulker for the last 16 years according to its site (http://belizeprayernetwork.com/about/). The site contact is George Ferrar who runs the Tree Life Ministries.
 
      
                                                               
 

The site spoke of 37 declarations that including sodomy, cultivating christian political leaders and the constitution see below and source:



We declare that Belize is under God’s special protection and care, because it is “founded on principles
that acknowledge the supremacy of God” according to our Constitution;
We declare that God is supreme over Belize, where the vast majority of people profess to be Christians,and that He is our greatest defense against foreign invasions;
We affirm with the Constitution “the equal and inalienable rights…endowed by their Creator”;
We declare the right to life endowed by the Creator, starting at conception, and the illegality of abortion;
We declare that sodomy is not a right endowed by the Creator because it violates His design for sex;
We declare that God designed sex for us to be fruitful and multiply within marriages producing families;
We declare that the effort to legalize sodomy will see defeat after defeat until it is completely defeated;
We declare that the churches in Belize will keep growing in unity as we respond to the gay agenda with God’s better plan for marriage, sex and family;
We declare that God will raise up more Christian teachers and resources with biblical worldviews;
We declare that the deception behind witchcraft, Freemasonry and cults will be exposed and weakened;
We declare that God is raising up Christian political leaders to represent Him as well as the people;
We thank God that LOVE-FM plans to have weekly broadcasts from church services;
and twice-a-month broadcasts of Christian leaders discussing national issues

More importantly, with the announcement that Patrick Andrews win for standard bearer for the PUP , it reflects an insidious development in the advancement of one of the seven pillars, control of government.




The 1000 men march coincidentally is scheduled for February 28, 2014 by the evangelicals, but the 20,000 women rally,  supported by Special Envoy, Kim Simplis, is scheduled for March 6th, 2014 as seen in the flyer below. With the recommendations of the churches submitted to water-down the gender policy (see source below page for evangelical concerns of the gender policy), and the additional announcement of Patrick King presence in Belize, 2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for bigotry. 



                                                                       


Source: http://belizeprayernetwork.com/about/declarations-for-belize/
Source:http://www.plustvbelize.com/news/patrick-andrews-is-new-pup-standard-bearer-for-the-belmopan-constituency/
Source: http://belizeaction.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Gender-Policy-2013-AMENDED-with-NOTATIONS-ADDED.pdf


 

Monday, February 10, 2014

El Salvador parliament rejects constitutional ban on marriage

Re posted 10th February, 2014

El Salvador parliament rejects constitutional ban on same-sex marriage


Sunday, February 9, 2014
 
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The Salvadoran Parliament has again failed in its attempt to approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

El-Salvador 


Of the 84 members that make up the Parliament, only 19 on Friday voted in favor of ratifying a constitutional amendment adopted on April 25, 2012, months after a first project, voted in 2009 to be shelved, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.
The measure, which cleared the chamber in 2012, defines marriage as between a man and a woman and their children. It also sought to prohibit El Salvador from recognizing the foreign marriages of gay couples and bans gays from adopting children.
A constitutional amendment requires the approval of two consecutive legislatures; a simply majority (43 votes) during the first reading, followed by a super-majority (56).
Having failed ratification, the initiative may not be considered again for six months.
A proposal to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption was rejected twice in 2006, and again in 2009.

Source:http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/02/el-salvador-parliament-rejects-constitutional-ban-on-same-sex-marriage/

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Latin America: The usual forces, with surprising Results

Reposted January 30th, 2014

The Usual Forces, With Surprising Results

Javier Corrales
Javier Corrales is the John E. Kirkpatrick 1951 professor of political science at Amherst College.
January 29, 2014

The expansion of L.G.B.T. rights in Latin America has followed a storyline that is similar to the expansion of civil rights more generally across the globe, but with some twists. The key forces include rising incomes, social movements, political parties and conservative actors. But in the politics of gay rights in Latin America, these forces have defied expectations.

Gay rights in Latin America have expanded the most in countries whose incomes are highest, namely Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico. This much was predictable. Yet high income has been neither sufficient nor necessary. Not-so-rich Ecuador established same-sex civil unions constitutionally, whereas the very rich Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago have dismal records on gay rights.

We know that when social movements are strong, widespread and committed to human rights for all, they help push for political rights. This too helps explain the legislative successes of those five high-income countries, home to some of the strongest social movements in the region.
However, social movements are also strong in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru, and activists in these countries are having trouble expanding L.G.B.T. rights.    What seems to make a difference, therefore, is not so much the strength of social movements, but rather, whether they forge strong ties with national-level political parties. In Chile, for instance, gay rights groups, despite their commitment to the left, worked closely with the center-right ruling party to promote the country’s first hate crime law.
It is not enough to look at the forces pushing for change. Barriers are also important, and in Latin America, as elsewhere, the most important barriers against L.G.B.T. rights are posed by religious groups. Where religious groups have strong ties to political parties, legislative progress for L.G.B.T. rights suffers. Sometimes it’s the Catholic Church that is closely tied to a party (e.g., Conservatives in Colombia); sometimes it’s the Protestant right (as in the United States and many English-speaking Caribbean countries); sometimes it’s both (as in Central America). Even in presumably revolutionary Cuba and Nicaragua, the ruling parties strengthened their ties with the Catholic Church hierarchy in the 2000s, and this is one reason they have lagged behind on L.G.B.T. rights. Civil rights in general often depend in upholding the separation of church and state, but in the politics of gay rights, the separation of church and party is just as vital.
Even within the five high-income countries, religious groups have strong ties with at least one party in Chile, Mexico and Brazil, which explains why L.G.B.T. legislation in these countries is less sweeping than in Argentina and Uruguay. In those two cases, the separation of church and party is the norm, and the type of Catholic practice is less fundamentalist; these nations’ Catholics attend church less often and are less opposed to same-sex marriage than Catholics elsewhere generally are.
Parties in Latin America could do more. They could encourage more politicians to come out, for instance. Even in the very pro-gay Argentina, openly gay politicians are rare, and this perpetuates a culture of complacency. Until parties transform themselves, they will only push for L.G.B.T. rights based on the allies they get. The more they align themselves with the progressive social movements, and less with religious groups, the more they can be counted on to bring about pro-gay change.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/01/29/why-is-latin-america-so-progressive-on-gay-rights/javier-corrales-noon-tues