Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Section 53: A case of Adult Privacy and The best liars in religion

9th September, 2016

On August 10th, 2016, the Supreme Court of Belize ruled that section 53 was unconstitutional and read down the offending section to say, "this does not apply to consenting sexual acts between adults in private." Wade, in his disappointment noted in a facebook commentary on August 18th that Cabinet and Caleb was Sodom and Gomorrah. This snapshot on the left reveals exactly what he said while his fundamentalist colleagues revealed  solutions that included a referendum on section 53, a constitutional amendment on marriage, safeguarding the education from LGBT Agenda, among others to correct concerns about the acknowledgement of LGBT rights in Belize.

 














Furthermore, Wade and Stirm promoted a campaign of deception with the Belize National Teachers, Utilities Union and the leader of the opposition. As a result, the Utilities Union issued a Press Release on September 8th, calling on the government to,.." mount an appeal, against the sections within the judgement which express issues of our freedom of expression, and the meaning of gender to include sexual orientation." If they had spent anytime reading the judgement, they would have known that the term to be challenged was sex not gender. Still they call for peace and no discrimination. The release further spoke to, " ensuring democracy prevails" and calls for members, "to take active measure to support the churches in our country.



















With regards to the Belize National Teacher Union, they issued a press release as well. Except, upon further investigation, it was the PR department of the Union which issued the release without any consultation from teachers, expressing concern, "..for the sake of our children and the nation, we urge that this request as a matter of national importance." How a case about adult privacy jumped to safeguarding children in education is a comprehension process that must be explained. Amazingly, the release spoke of," to ensure that this matter, is thoroughly ventilated."  The ventilation seem to be to ensure bigotry and and fearmongering prevails, as an invitation was never extended to the United Belize Advocacy Movement to explain the judgement.


 
In a bid to promote understanding of section 53, the Prime Minister of Belize very succinctly on August 26th in the house explained unnatural crime, when he said, "...the order of nature has been interpreted to mean a range of things...when I was a criminal lawyer .. against the order of nature included as well oral sex."  Alluding to the point that all Belizeans were unapprehended felons and that section 53 was about adult privacy. For daring to stand up for my constitutional rights and challenge the entitlement of  Right-Wing fundamentalists groups like National Evangelical Association of Churches in Belize, COLA and Leaders Alliance sought to organized two protest. On August 23rd, 2016. Fundamentalist organized a protest in Belmopan infront of the National Assembly as well as August 26th, 2016.



This writer have to say, the best liars in the faith-base business, is Scott Stirm and Louis Wade. For immediately after that decision, Wade  reported that UniBAM received $3.4m 24 hours after the section 53 decision. Never mind, it was money for the National HIV response. Further more, Stirm, an American by birth, reveals that in point 2 that section 53 is to safeguard children. Never mind, he opposed the amendments to the criminal code that sought to protect children. Louis goes even further and reveals in his post that the CJ has no power, that the CJ rewrote the constitution and interpret the constitution outside its "normal meaning.". No mentioned of state international obligations, no mentioned of the power of the Judicary to read down laws. His facebook points are revealed at the right hand corner of this post and bottom center.








Of note, Scott Stirm is not the only Pastor advocating against LGBT issues in Belize. Meet American Pastor Dennis Ten Kley who was interviewed by channel 5 and he had this to say,"I pray that my daughter will accept Jesus soon or sometime because we’re coming to the end of time and I don’t want to see her go to hell and that’s what’s going to happen to all the homosexuals.  It’s in the Bible, it’s in Galatians and Corinthians all over.  If those people would realize and I just, my daughter won’t let me talk to her much so I can’t, yeah, it’s very hard.”With the exception of Eugene Crawford, a Belizean, the Belize Prayer Network reveals other  Americans supporting the propaganda of the right wing in Belize.

 On September 9th, the perfect storm of factors came together that allowed the Prime Minister go back on his word not to appeal? In simply terms, The PM announcement that government, will not appeal; two right-wing Evangelical led protests, one on August 23 and one on Augusts 26th that was complimented with campaign of mis-education of the Unions and the general public; add in, the silence of civil society and a government riddled with scandal. It becomes a perfect storm of pressure to advance marginalisation of Belizean LGBT rights, more importantly, citizens’ rights. One can argue, we may have won section 53, but lost on civil right matters.   A point made clearer when Pastor Lewis said, "We thought that the cabinet would have accepted the removal of the gender policy, but they said no to that according to what the Prime Minister said, but now this will come under the commission for public morality." As a result, A morality Commission was formed, the reason, “government believes, it's a shared position of all of us that marriage is between a man and a woman. The whole question of how to protect family values in an inclusive society."

The importance of section 53 to religious leaders is not sexual acts that consenting adults do in private, but the idea that the systems of marginalisation and oppression that they felt entitled for generations was challenged. More importantly, right wing fundamentalists- the NEAB, the Catholic Church along with Anglicans, discovered that section 53 was about challenging their automatic sense of entitlement in the system to undermine LGBT rights, was no longer automatic.  Moreover, losing at first instance made them realise that the era of absolute entitlement is over. The challenge to sex is only a small indication that they collectively are struggling with the notion of rights protection and enforcement concerns of LGBT person.  Government itself is struggling with the notion, as well, for while it walked back on its word of not appealing, it did say, it will not seek to appeal the whole of section 53 a Constructive response to prevent it utter collapse.


The clock is ticking on all this, as September 16th is the deadline for government to push forward filing for partial appeal which will give standing to the Catholic Church to submit its document to the court. Round two arrives to Belize’s Court of Appeal, whether the PM of Belize believe that the right wing fundamentalists thinkers will be appease at the end of all court hearings will be discovered in time. We I do know, is that Belize has never been the same since September 9th, as right-wing fundamentalists were finally let in to governance, to what can be interpreted as the fourth branch of government. Only the future holds, to see if it will collapse under its own weight,




Source:
http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=37471

Morality Commission:
http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=37623&frmsrch=1 

Partial Appeal
http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=37620&frmsrch=1



Friday, August 12, 2016

Guatemala's Border Dispute: A Belizean LGBT Prospective

Posted August 8th, 2016

The current debate on Guatemala ad Belize about sovereignty has forced the United Belize Advocacy Movement to look into the level of violence that affects both countries from a LGBT prospective. What the research alludes to is that both countries are challenged to address violence that occurs within its borders, have grossly under-invested in addressing human rights mechanisms, and renders, systematically, its LGBT citizens invisible in policy and planning.  

Let's examine the global picture of trans murders. Trans Murder Monitoring project issued its IDAHOT  reported that counted  2115  killings of trans and gender diverse people in 65 countries worldwide between the 1st of January 2008 and the 30th of April 2016. 1,654 of which were reported in Central and South America. The annual report up to December 2015 points out,

Further analysis of this data shows that 65% of all murdered trans and gender diverse people whose profession was known were sex workers...the highest absolute numbers have been found in countries with strong trans movements and civil society organizations that carry out forms of professional monitoring.

The TMM data mapping revealed that it received between 2008-2015 Guatemala had, 39 trans murders, but Belize had 2 documented in that same time period.  The 2012 Shadow Report for 104th session of the Human Rights Committee reveals at least 35 LGBT people were murdered in Guatemala between 1996 and 2006 on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but between 2009 to 2010, alone, at least 30 transgender individuals were killed. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions noted,

 “There has been impunity for murders motivated by hatred towards persons identifying as gay, lesbian, transgender, and transsexual.”In approximately 34% of cases of violent crimes against transgender women, the assailants could be identified, but there is little evidence of charges ever being brought.

In Belize, we have documented 32 murders  or attempted from 1997 to 2015 that have occurred for various reasons. In all we have received 146 reports of  socio-economic and civil rights violations that have gone unanswered.

 



The breakdown of data base on human rights violation for Belize between 1997 to 2015 follows a system of under-reporting that invisible violence in our country against persons who are LGBT Belizeans. A result that allows state systems to deny that violence and discriminate occur, including bias-motivated crimes. No state system have these data in Belize except the United Belize Advocacy Movement.

 


This violence exists both states, Belize has never experience genocide or a 30 year arm conflict. The Guatemalan armed conflict from 1962 to 1996 have not ended violence after loosing an estimated 300,000 people. Even years later, he country 's recorded killings  routinely exceed 5,000 per year. In fact, in 2010, 4,925 violent deaths were recorded, including 41 lynchings, as well as 6,132 reports injury as a result of violent attacks.  Of the 30,873 reported incidents of violence against women in 2009, only 0.7% of the cases led to a prosecution and 0.2% to criminal sentences. Guatemala’s rate for 2015 was little unchanged: 36 homicides per 100,000 people, with 5,718 murders — slightly less than the 38 per 100,000 rate recorded in 2014. For Belize murders of citizens totaled, 1,553 between 2000-2015 with 672 rapes and 7,541 robberies.





        
 
When crime data is compared to military might, Guatemala has 14,918,999 citizens, 5.518m fit for service, 15,500 active front line personnel, with 340,000 citizens reaching military age annually. It has 20 tanks, 134 armored fighting vehicles,  with a defense budget of $210,000,000us.The Belize government spent, $32m us on the military with active personnel at 1,330 with 750  in reserves as of 2016.

When gross domestic product is added in 2015 it stood at $1.76b or  less than .1%  of the Worlds Economy for Belize, but Guatemala's Gross Domestic Product is $63b. Guatemala's per capita income, $3850us, however, was less than Belize's $7,098.23us in 2015.


What is this thing called the border dispute? It really is about how we value our human rights institutions, like the judiciary, its about whether the rate of poverty will go up or  down at the border lines with Guatemala; its about, whether Belize will improve its redress mechanisms with money and personnel tat is accessible to the every day man or woman. We may not have a history of modern genocide, but we do something far worse to our citizens, complicity has attack the dignity of citizens and the practice of collective silence have allowed the perpetuation of mistreatment.

Going to the ICJ or not, we still need to deal with citizens security both economic and personal. The struggle continues.

  
 Guatemala's Stop Trans Murders
 https://www.outrightinternational.org/content/guatemala-stop-trans-murders-guatemala

 Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People in Guatemala: A Shadow Report
file:///C:/Users/Caleb/AppData/Local/Temp/566-1.pdf

TMM IDAHOT Release
http://transrespect.org/en/idahot-2016-tmm-update/

Transgender Day of Violence:
http://transrespect.org/en/tdov-2016-tmm-update/

Tansgender Data MAP
http://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TvT_TMM_TDoV2016_Tables_EN.pdf

Guatemala Military Strengthen
http://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=guatemala

Belize Military
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belize_Defence_Force

Northern Triangle Violence
http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/01/05/central-americas-violent-northern-triangle-registers-17422-homicides-in-2015

Belize GDP 2015
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/belize/gdp
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/belize/gdp-per-capita-ppp

Guatemala GDP 2015
https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/country-data/guatemala-gdp-country-report




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Orosco's Lesson

  Reposted August 11th, 2016

Orosco’s Lessons
 
There’s lots to learn from Orosco!
Despite people trying to make his plight into a fiasco
Taking on the entire nation and won
Disaporan Belize needs to challenge section 63 (1)
BPP needs to bring a case for the signing of the
UN convention on Anti Corruption
So does the entire Nation
He’s taught us how to lobby
He’s taught us how to agitate
He’s taught us how engage
He taught us not to accept being marginalize
Or self ostracize
He taught us to organize
He taught us to endure with tear in your eyes
He taught us to push on despite being criticized
Caleb did not do this he owe
He put up his office near his home
He sought international affiliations
He was thinking of future generations
He started web- site and attended international forums
Researched and lobbied among those ready for action
He show more ump than our politicians
He’s taught us how to lobby
He’s taught us how to agitate
He’s taught us no engage
He taught us not to marginalize
Or self ostracize
He taught us to organize
He taught us to endure with tear in your eyes
He taught us to push on despite being criticized
International lawyers and students joined his crusade
Removing any national blockade
Then international bodies tried to persuade
Our government to engage
Then it went further into diminishing UN aid
Then it began affecting international trade
Then more pressures came down like a two edged blade
This ruling was years in the making
We laughed as he made the media encircling
I remember ‘lik road’and Dickie trying to make fun of him
His tenacity, passion and determination got this win
His mother must be proud of him
The bigots are still singing sin
He’s taught us how to lobby
He’s taught us how to agitate
He’s taught us no engage
He taught us not to marginalize
Or self ostracize
He taught us to organize
He taught us to endure with tear in your eyes
He taught us to push on despite being criticized
By: Abdulmajeed K Nunez

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Coalition,Belize:Against the Odds at the DR OAS General Assembly


 Posted June 17th, 2016


In 2016 fundamentalists clash with our LGBTTI Coalition in an anti-climatic way at the OAS General Assembly meeting in Santo Domingo. They appeared in droves on the street, but in response, as a member of the coalition, I decided to take pictures of them in the background in defiance of their overwhelming numbers with a simply message, "Zero Discrimination.' I cant say the OAS LGBTTI coalition was surprise to see the numbers, but I can say that the numbers reminded me of our experience in Belize, 2013 when the so called 'constitutional marches'  was organized across the country.


In 2013, we saw fundamentalists influenced by Belize Action, organized themselves in the South of Belize with close to 2,000 people walking on foot, with a hanging effigy leading that march. It was through Se la Vee, a virtual forum on social issues that  allies and community members learned of the effigy through an uploaded cellphone video. It was strongly condemned by then Minister Lisel Allamila and many others in the community as bordering on hate. The odds were not in our favor to be able to organized a march that large, but allies and community member remain defiant in their position that Belizean fundamentalists were wrong in having the effigy leading the march.

 




The Channel five story of July 11th, 2013 reported on the issue," The lynching of an effigy depicting one or, symbolically, all members of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), during a pro-constitution march held in Toledo last Friday, has raised grave concerns." Realising, too late, that the effigy was bad public communication that promoted an imagery of violence, Belizean fundamentalist  distance themselves. The coverage done by Western Vision highlighed the point in it's report,  "..Three of the participants in the pro-Constitution March, BelizeCan, Belize Action and Rise and Shine, have issued a statement regarding photographs purporting to show the hanging in effigy of UNIBAM...' and goes on to say, “We strongly condemn and discourage the use of such placards or images which can be perceived as sending the wrong message. We encourage Belizeans to exercise their right to rally in a respectful, responsible, and God-fearing manner,” said the statement.   Louis Wade, the owner of Plus."

We were glad our opponents made fundamental public communication mistakes because it provided evidence of homophobia and that discrimination and hate was real. We fought back in the timely release of a report called Dangerous Liaisons and got our opponents to admit that they were working with right-wing American groups. The New Seven report made July, 29th 2013 states, 'He does admit that ADF and C-FAM has provided advice, legal assistance and strategy, and he says quote,“they are assisting in cases all over the world in the homosexual global attack on morality & family values.”' The argument of a foreign Agenda was reversed unto our opponents for the first time.

 The theme of social defiance in national advocacy, as we experienced in Belize,  reflected the current extended left and right push and pull in many international spaces. The OAS General Assembly, is no different, in fact, opposition and counter-engagement strategies in the norm at the OAS. When we found members of the Coalition being prevented from using the public bathroom during the General Secretary Dialogue, members naturally protested against the indignity. It helped to have the media there to cover their concern and it helped to learn the following day that there would be gender-neutral bathrooms at a coalition meeting.


 
When we found ourselves in a room where fundamentalists outnumbered our coalition members 2 to 1, we were not having it. As a result, members and allies alike came back swinging with signs.Yes, the fundamentalists were out in droves, what we did not have in numbers we made up in spirit with our Jamaican colleague signs leading the way, which said, ' End Religious Extremism!' and 'Religious Extremism Kills!" and 'Protect my Gay Family'. Our coalition added their two cent with trans flags and signs as well, while other coalition members had their own signs like 'LGBTTI are Humans Too!' and held up, 'diverse families.' Signs and sounds began to bloom in torrent of organized chaos at the Secretary General OAS dialogue, but at least it was respectful.


 





The fundamentalists came back at us through their speakers and signs like ' no gender ideology.' They used working groups to lay down their positions and they sought to shut out the coalition from participating in the General Assembly process. In fact, we learned from one of our colleagues from Guatemala that the bathroom incident form the basis for arguments of exclusion of the coalition from engaging with ambassadors during the Permanent Council process. A fact, we learn a day later after the coalition engaged representative of the Inter-American Court.














 

 When we arrived at Foreign Ministry building for Santo Domingo, we were herded into a small room and made to wait by officials. Members of the coalition were upset about the exclusion for in nine years of attending the OAS General  Assembly the Coalition has always had the freedom to listen and engage quietly with representative on the Permanent Council about their concern. Officials eventually met us and we expressed concerns about being held hostage in the room and they expressed concerns about the news reports painting them badly.



  


The agreement was not reached without, a transwoman from Santo Domingo contribution to local media from the room window, while we waited for final agreement. The result of that unwanted contribution led to to security calling for four more persons to block the window to prevent persons inside the room from shouting to the media who were directly outside. During the process, they had a security officer take our photos, so we took out our cameras and took pictures of them. We agreed that we would take off our cameras and they would remove their efforts at documenting who was in the room. Fascinatingly, we saw our internet slow down and the air-conditioning cut off while we waited for negotiations to happen. The point made by officials was that there was no space, but the point we made was that they knew exactly how many people would come and that they had the burden of responsibility to planned properly. In the end, it was agreed to let every person in the room plus one person from registered organizations.

Like all General Assembly, the work of the coalition would not be complete without picture taking from Belize and its Caribbean Colleagues who made every effort to reach out to representatives. It was interesting at this general assembly to hear how countries in the Caribbean extended their condolences to the people of the US  about the Orlando Shooting. Jamaica and Trinidad made mentioned of Orlando, but Belize's Foreign Minister Erlington said in his speech,"their pain is our pain, their grief is our grief!" a point as a Belizean citizen, I can appreciate. Other  Caribbean colleagues sought to reach out to their representatives and documented their efforts at engagement by taking a picture or two, or simply asking a question during the Secretary General Dialogue. We did our part in a meeting with the representative of the Inter-American Court, with the representative from Barbados speaking up.



 
 


For Belize visibility meant expanding our presence through Zahnia Canul and Tia with her network,  REDLACTRAN. It was a welcomed sight to see her expand her understanding of political communication to strengthen her capacity. Zahnia can be seen here, holding a sign, but documenting the speech and supporting the concerns of her network very strongly at the Secretary General dialogue. I added my concern about tolerance and ensured that I engaged Belize's Assistant Secretary General of the OAS Nestor Mendez whom can be seen side by side with the Secretary General below.

 


I look forward to see what 2017 brings, protests has happened in Paraguay and Guatemala, -prior to Santo Domingo, but never in numbers like Santo Domingo, I wonder while there, how many of the people protesting realized that they are protesting against their own health and right needs. I look forward to 2017 in Mexico.

Source:
Minister Alamilla appalled by hanging of UNIBAM effigy in P.G.
 http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/87925

Group Distance themselves from UNIBAM Effigy
 http://www.westvision.bz/groups-distance-themselves-from-unibam-effigy/

Report Dangerous Liaison
http://ambergriscaye.com/art2/dangerous_liaisons_splc-report.pdf

Stirm Strikes Bank at SPLC
http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=26163&frmsrch=1

Friday, May 13, 2016

TMM IDAHOT Report for 17 May, 2016

Reposted: May 13th, 2016
 
International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHOT) Press Release
Already 100 reported murders of trans people in 2016

On occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT)[1] held on the 17 of May every year, Transgender Europe (TGEU) is publishing the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project[2] update to join the voices raising awareness on this day about the multiple forms of discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI people worldwide.
This update (TMM IDAHOT 2016) reveals 100 reported murders of trans and gender diverse people in 2016, which is the highest number in the first 4 months of the year registered by the TMM project since 2008. In total, the numbers add up to 2115 reported killings of trans and gender diverse people in 65 countries worldwide between the 1st of January 2008 and the 30th of April 20161654 of which were reported in Central and South America.
Throughout all six world regions, the highest absolute numbers have been found in countries with strong trans movements and civil society organisations that carry out forms of professional monitoring: Brazil (845), Mexico (247), Colombia (108), Venezuela (104), and Honduras (80) in Central and South America; the United States (141) in North America; Turkey (43) and Italy (34) in Europe; and India (55), the Philippines (40) and Pakistan (35) in Asia.[3]
TGEU’s Senior Researcher, Carsten Balzer/Carla LaGata, affirms, The TMM figures show only the tip of the iceberg of homicides of trans and gender diverse people on a worldwide scale, as these cases are those found through Internet search and cooperation with trans organisations and activists. In most countries, data on murdered trans and gender diverse people are not systematically produced, and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.” S_he adds, “as TGEU started to move towards more cooperation with organisations and networks in several countries in Africa, Asia, and South America in 2016 and increased the number of staff working on the TMM project, it is very likely that the figures registered will be higher in the future.”
The situation in Brazil is especially worrying, with 40% of the cases since January 2008, and 42% of the cases in 2016 so far worldwide“One of the factors contributing to the increase in the already high number of trans and gender diverse people murdered in the country is the recently-established cooperation between TGEU and the Brazilian trans network Rede Trans Brasil. This allows for a joint effort in more thoroughly and professionally monitoring and reporting the violence against trans and gender diverse people,”explains TGEU’s Transrespect Officer, Lukas Berredo, who joined TGEU’s Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide project team in 2016.
The theme for IDAHOT 2016 is “Mental Health and Well Being”. In most countries, trans and gender diverse people must receive an official mental health diagnosis in order to access gender affirming services and legal gender recognition. This psychiatrisation of trans identities strongly contributes to the stigmatization and violence towards trans and gender diverse people.
 
For More Information: TGEU Senior Researcher, Carsten Balzer/Carla LaGata, and TGEU Transrespect Officer, Lukas Berredo, are available for interviews and questions, and can be reached at carla[at]tgeu.org or at lukas[at]tgeu.org, respectively.
 
NOTES:
In 2012, Transgender Europe published “TRANSRESPECT VERSUS TRANSPHOBIA WORLDWIDE – A Comparative Review of the Human-rights Situation of Gender-variant/Trans People”, which contextualises the TMM data: http://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/TvT_research-report.pdf
[1] The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) is dedicated to raise awareness about the alarming situation of discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, trans, and intersex people. It was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
[2] The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project started in April 2009, and since then it has been systematically monitoring, collecting, and analysing reports of homicides of trans and gender diverse people worldwide. Updates of the results, which have been presented in July 2009 for the first time, are published on the “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” project website from two to four times a year in form of tables, name lists, and maps.
[3] The TMM IDAHOT 2016 update reports killings of trans and gender diverse people between January 2008 and April 2016 in all world regions: 1654 killings in 23 countries in Central and South America, which account for 78,2% of the globally reported murders; 183 killings in 16 Asian countries; 146 killings in North America; 117 killings in 16 European countries; 10 killings have been reported in 4 African countries; and 5 killings in 4 countries in Oceania.