Thursday, May 31, 2012

Report of Draft Resolution Process in Cochabamba

31st, May, 2012
Report of Draft Resolution Process in Cochabamba


Below is a draft resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Oreintation and Gender Identity. What we have learnt is that the Holy See sought to weaken this resolution by encouraging Peru to modify it with reference to marriage between a man and a woman. The goal it seems was to weaken support among member states. What we learnt is that six countries supported the resolution, this included Urugauy, Costa Rica, Salvador, Argentina, US, and Canada. The Caribbean region did not work to block the resolutions in anyway, like in pass years, but interestingly enough, Costa Rica, a conservative country is a sponsor of the resolution. The process of support or sponsorship is important because the process by the OAS is about decisions by consensus. Highlighted are the important areas of concerns which I believe is achieveable in advocating for systematic change of rights enforcement. I must note that while we have used one of the resolution as evidence in our legal challenge we have not circulated it to our partners and the community at large.  For us the, resolution is an opportunity to do many things.
Beyond this,today, we had the chance to meet a Bolivian congressmen as well named Saul Garabito to engaged him on LGBT concerns. Mostly, the meeting was to support our Bolivian counterparts as they move to advance their bill on transgender protections. Beyond this, please see, partial draft resolution below to be passed at the general assembly with writing highlighted in Red for what is considered the i important parts.
                                                                                                                 
DRAFT RESOLUTION-May 23, 2012


(Presented by the Permanent Mission of Brazil, co-sponsored by the
Permanent Missions of Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, and Uruguay,
and approved by the CAJP on May 8, 2012)

 THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT resolutions AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09), AG/RES. 2600 (XL-O/10), and AG/RES. 2653 (XLI-O/11), “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity”;.......

 RESOLVES:
1.  To condemn discrimination against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity; and to urge the states within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems to eliminate, where they exist, barriers faced by lesbians, gays, and bisexual, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in access to political participation and in other areas of public life.

2. To encourage member states to consider, within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems, adopting public policies against discrimination by reason of sexual orientation and gender identity.

3.  To condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity; and to urge states to strengthen their national institutions with a view to preventing and investigating these acts and violations and ensuring due judicial protection for victims on an equal footing and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
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 6.To request the IACHR to prepare a study on legislation and provisions in force in the OAS member states restricting the human rights of individuals by reason of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to prepare, based on that study, guidelines aimed at promoting the decriminalization of homosexuality.

7. To urge the member states that have not yet done so to consider signing,ratifying,     or acceding to, as the case may be, the inter-American human rights instruments.

8. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly on the implementation of this resolution. Execution of the activities envisaged in this resolution will be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

LGBT expereinces in Latin America-trends for Belize

May  31st, 2012

As members came in today in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the Hotel Plaza Ceaser. Activists reported from Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica.
Guatemala Report:
Found out that in Guatemala, they used her identity to detain her as her invitation letter was not considered legitimate. We learnt in Nicaragua the airline charge the person $50 more dollars. 80% of the murders documented happen happen in latin america. For Guyana, the police take the sex workers monies, ask for sexual favors and harass. When money is taken out of a trans person mouth who already is discriminated is creates food security for the individual
Honduras Report:
In less than 2 years over 37 LGBT person have been killed after Honduras Coup de'tat. One the first day a transwoman was killed. Just a few days ago a human rights defender was killed. People are generally stoned in the head or chest. A few have been strangled, burnt and mutilated. LGBT in an effort to address disrimination had a conference in 2010 to look at the criminal code, but the proposal submitted to congress was rejected because many in the congress was religious. The US government has been helpful, in supporting the investigation of crime against LGBT individuals

Bolivia Report:
In Bolivia, the trans group started a national network of trans women including a group for HIV. Arguements were made why The T in LGBT was always ignored for it was trans women who was most vulnerable to violence and discrimination. They built an alliance and change LGBT to TLGB in recognizition of trans vulnerability to violence. The Lesbian collective wanted to kill the coordinator for changing the prioritie of the population. The point is that even among the LGBT population the politics of division with the communioty can help undermine political advocacy. The group got monies from global fund to do a study on seroprevalence for trans woman.


With the creation of the Trans network it caused a problem witht he PLHIV network who saw that the network was competing for resources and was acting a parallel network. The challenge included having to negociate legal changes to ensure that one law was presented to government to a void stagnation in legal protection.

Jamica Report:
In Jamaica, they launch the first challenge to the sodomy law, get precautionary measures for the petitioners, and had difficulty with TV stations not wanting to air ads on tolerance. the station basically said that there was nothing to be proud of being gay. The church has been on the offensive after obama public support of gay marriage. they even revealed publicly a man who is now married and had 9 children after he claimed he was cure of his gayness. Minister of justice has sent a message that the savings clause law should go to allow the court to decide this issue. Parliment does not want to do this because it sees it as political suicide. There is a jamaican on the inter-american human rights commission from URAP. Data have been collected that homelessness and homophobia are intrically linked which drives food security issues and restrict employment work to sex work aat times.

Nicaragua Report:
In nicaragua, they obtain legal status recently. The evnagelicals influences every thing in central america. The catholic church have argued that the family law is just about married couples with family. In the pass three years there have been 3 activists killed in the rural areas in the last year. discrimination is a criminal offense in nicaragua. We have a special prosecutor for sexual diversity. Her name is Samira montero. she works close with the trans community of human rights violations. There are similair programs like Bolivia. There is an FAO program that includes LGBT persons that helps to give them cows etc to support economic needs.

Suriname Report:
In Suriname parliament, they had a person who said that homosexuals should be eliminated. There was a reprimand of the parliamentarian, but the person continued in the media. It triggered a dialogue in the public. Meetings where held to highlight root causes of homophobia. The areas were rights, health and trained 14 LGBT advocates. We had some one from the OAS an old judge, who told us about the need for doing a shadow report but did not tell about the 4 resolutions passed at the OAS.

In Suriname, the government has said that no one should be discriminated, but there must be a dialogue with the churches on the issue. We formed an LGBT platform. We have asked the T's to participate, but they are not ready.Found out that the trans individuals are using hormones in the wrong way endangering their health. Planning to write shadow report for 2015.

Tinidad And Tobago Report:
In T&T, the attorney general made a statement that the government will have review laws that criminalise adult consenual sex. They had a children's bill that criminalise same sex activty between a certain age, but it was not for heterosexual sex. The inequity in the law led to independent senators objecting. The opposition has said that they will have to be more progressive of the equal opportunity amendments when it comes up. CAiSO ,had a demonstration infront of parliament with positive coverage from media. When it comes to marriage people are irrational. the Minister of Foreign affairs came out after obama statement to support marriage that the government will be taking a position on the issue soon. They think that statement was to confuse any forward movement on the equal opportunity amendment. Additional challenges include Trans persons who would be considered leaders have left the country seeking asylum. Homelessness remains a problem. The gender policy has sought to refine the definition of gender, but the evangelicals have expressed an issue with social definition.

Costa Rica Report:
We discovered that in Costa Rica they elected a fundmentalist president who is from Opus Day. The president signed a bilateral agreement with the Vatican which leads to the vatican influencing with the protocols around health. Costa rica has made Catholicism, the official religion and there is arrangements for Costa rica to send the Vatican money. the bilateral agreement has been denounced as its one of a few countries that do not allow invitro services.
There was an effort to have the majority decide the level of rights for LGBT population through a referendum, but that process was blocked by a legal challenge. They did introduce a cohabitation bill for review to the commission, but strangely, the president of the local commission is a fundamentalist. Go figure on the separation of church and state.

Beyond this, Belize has an ambassador to the Vatican, Harry Lawerence, who filed an affidavit against our legal challenge. We have the Evangelicals, Catholics and Anglican as interested parties against our case. So, its not far fetch to have a so called constitutional democracy being undermine solely of religious positions. We have a UPR addendum report of 2009 which document response. It basically speaks to needing a political mandate to change laws that decriminalise. If the constition recognises the fundmental rights and freedoms of all citizens and if the Universal Declaration is acknowledged in policy documents, how can political attitude maintain they need a political mandate when we have already subcribed to these acknowledgements, but more importantly to a constitution that was created by Belizeans.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Belize IDAHO Actions, May 17th, 2012



As part of our Social Media Advocacy Work for IDAHO a couple of our  supporters taped their mouths to protest the Silence of Homophobia in Belize on May 17th, 2012.








  

A Page for IDAHO was set up with 55 persons accepting the challenge to commemorate May 17th, 2012. See link for information... http://www.facebook.com/events/168956879899933/permalink/175982915863996/?comment_id=175983255863962&notif_t=like

As we recognized the need to increase visibility around homophobia a call was made to have supporters in Belize Change their status to IDAHO. This message below was circulated to supporters we also got right wing thinker Luis Wade to encourage people to post Corinthians 6:9-11 on his PLUSTV rise and shine.

Homophobia manifests itself in Belize in many ways, ranging from very subtle to violent and deadly. Discrimination in the workplace or at school, bullying, disownment by family, violent attacks, and most tragically even homicides DO occur in Belize as a direct result of homophobia.

On May 17th I will be making a simple statement to show my support to wipe out homophobia in Belize. On this day I will change my facebook status to include the word IDAHO. This is the acronym for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.

Belize is a country of people of diverse beliefs and opinions. However, I believe we as a nation stand against ALL forms of discrimination, especially any discrimination that leads to violence or puts our Belizean brothers and sisters at risk.

I am asking you to join me on May 17th to put the word IDAHO on your facebook status to show Belize that you are concerned about homophobia. I am not asking you to support gay rights, or gay marriage, or make a faith based statement about homosexuality. We are all entitled to our own personal beliefs, but as Belizeans I hope we all agree that discrimination in any form has no place in a free and just society.

Finally, please share this message with your friends so they may also join us in standing up against homophobia on Thursday, May 17.
Beyond this we scheduled a dinner for 12:00 to 2:00 to discuss the concept of IDAHO an email  was sent to Ministry's of Health, Education and Human Development to raise awareness about the day and a press release was issued for the day as well.
 This day has become important to the United Belize Advocacy Movement as we have experienced homophobia in the media, in education in access to justice.
 Dignity and rights are at the heart of commonwealth principles, recognized in the Belizean constitution, and acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet dignity and rights are allowed to be eroded because of concerns to protect political currency. Homophobia exists as individual actions, but can be reflected in institutional indifference. For example, when the former ombudsman man said on May 15th, 2012 on Lovefm news"   If a gay person can claim a right, then so can the rapist, so can the paedophile, so can the incestuous man or woman,"  and there is no institutional response, it becomes telling of the institutional value for upholding dignity and rights for all. In a statement at the High Level meeting in New York on June 9th, 201,  Health Minister Marin can be quoted from his statement the following:

…HIV must now be seen in the context of a chronic disease; in the context of a broader multi-sectoral response, in a context free of stigma and discrimination; in essence in the context of the respect of human rights and the right to health…
The political Declaration on HIV/AIDS 2011 spoke to the need to address MDG goals specifically 6. It noted the following:

29. Note that many national HIV prevention strategies inadequately focus on populations that epidemiological evidence shows are at higher risk, specifically men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, and further note however that each country should define the specific populations that are key to its epidemic and response, based on the epidemiological and national context;

    Further commitments and acknowledgements of the highest level of health education can be found in the Mexico Declaration, 1st meeting of Ministers in Health and Education to Stop HIV/AIDS in Latin America and The Caribbean in 2008 affirm in its declaration the following:
  
Affirm our commitment to the right to the highest possible level of health, education, non-discrimination and well-being of current and future generations.

As the Day of IDAHO passes on May 17th, 2012,the question is ask to all, are the right things being done to upholding the dignity and rights of all citizens or is the a process  influenced by indifference, fear and self-preservation? If the answer is influenced by indifference, then the advancement of homophobia is easily institutionalized in watered down documents and mechanisms. Let us reflect in the coming years if dignity and rights will be eroded by homophobia or upheld by the ideals of article one that all human being are create equal in dignity and rights.   
 
IDAHO 2012

Source: http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=22476

IDAHO- Belize Plans


PRESS RELEASE

May 15, 2012

Belize City—Belize commemorates the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on Thursday, May 17th with social media advocacy and events commemorating the day. The was chosen because of WHO’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on May 17, 2005.The day is symbolic of the improvement of the status of gay persons, and advances in the fight against homophobia and was done in over 80 countries in 2011.

Purple is the color of hope, the optimism of LGBT persons that they will one day live in a world free of homophobia. Over time, purple has come to represent a cause embraced by over 25,000 persons world wide.

On May 17, supporters of UniBAM and the We Are One in Human Rights Campaign will be gathering at local restaurants in Belize City and wearing purple in a show of solidarity against, homophobia, violence against gay persons, and all forms of discrimination in Belize.

Media representatives are invited to join supporters of the cause at a luncheon to be held at the Smokey Mermaid Restaurant from 12 pm – 2 pm, in commemoration of the Day. Kindly RSVP in advance to unibambusiness@gmail.com.

International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Appeal
Homophobia manifests itself in Belize in many ways, ranging from very subtle to violent and deadly.  Discrimination in the workplace or at school, bullying, disownment by family, violent attacks, and most tragically even homicides DO occur in Belize as a direct result of homophobia.    

On May 17th I will be making a simple statement to show my support to wipe out homophobia in Belize.  On this day I will change my facebook status to include the word IDAHO.  This is the acronym for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. 

Belize is a country of people of diverse beliefs and opinions.  However, I believe we as a nation stand against ALL forms of discrimination, especially any discrimination that leads to violence or puts our Belizean brothers and sisters at risk.

I am asking you to join me on May 17th to put the word IDAHO on your facebook status to show Belize that you are concerned about homophobia.  I am not asking you to support gay rights, or gay marriage, or make a faith-based statement about homosexuality.  We are all entitled to our own personal beliefs, but as Belizeans I hope we all agree that discrimination in any form has no place in a free and just society. 

Finally, please share this message with your friends so they may also join us in standing up against homophobia on Thursday, May 17!

 Laura Smith Of PASMO Belize
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onae--dFnAQ 

Dinner with Supporters
http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=22476http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=22476

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Forget the Homosexual-I am the real Criminal

Forget the Homosexuals – I am the Real Criminal

by Brent Toombs on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 3:48pm ·

The most important five words in Section 53 of the laws of Belize are “against the order of nature”.  Those words form the foundation for the argument presented by religious fundamentalists, and others, who believe their own interpretation of biblical scripture, their own particular brand of faith, and their own definitions of what is “normal” and “natural” should dictate how, why and (most importantly) to whom our laws are applied.

“Against the order of nature” does not specifically single out men who have sex with men or women who have sex with women, nor any particular sexual activity practiced exclusively by gays or lesbians.  Yet many people who lobby in favour of the continued criminalization of homosexuality in Belize defend their position by quoting scripture, declaring that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, and pointing out the biologically accurate fact that two men alone (or two women alone) can not create a baby.  Therefore, the fundamentalists insist, it is perfectly clear what God intends for all of us.  Man should be with woman and the result shall be children.  Go against the natural order of things and the law and/or God shall deal with you!

The constitution of Belize grants every person the right to believe exactly what he or she wants to believe.  If you choose to believe that there is a divine order to everything that is your right.  If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, that too is your right.  But you have to accept that the same constitution that protects your right to religious freedom, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression also protects everyone else.  Including the people who disagree with you.

In the past several months I have also heard many people defend their intolerance for homosexuality with wild claims of concern for the continued propagation of the Belizean population.  Many of these anti-gay crusaders - who dismiss the LGBT population as being so insignificantly small in numbers that their rights are not even worthy of consideration – are very concerned that gays and lesbians will not do their part to keep the population growing.  The Mayor of Belmopan even went so far as to suggest Belize would become “extinct” if we allow homosexuals to live freely in our society!

So what does any of this have to do with me, other than the fact I am a Belizean who believes in equal rights for all?  Well, I am a much bigger sinner and a much greater threat to the survival of our population than any gay or lesbian in Belize.

I am a heterosexual man and I am childless!

Oh my God, it is true.  I have sex with women (albeit monogamously) just like many Christians believe God intends for me to do.  But I have never had sex for the purpose of creating a life.  I’ve never “left it up to God” to decide if His plan is for me to have a child or not.  In fact I’ve been very deliberate (and responsible) about avoiding pregnancy my entire sexually active life.  Yes, you are free to believe that I thumb my nose at God every time I have sex.  Go right ahead and be concerned that I am putting the future of Belize in peril for not adding a few more children to our growing population.  I am certainly not “normal” by societal standards because not only do I not have children with my partner, I don’t have any “outside pikni” either.  In fact I don’t even have a “sweetheart”.  I’m the strange one, I know.

Clearly I conduct my private sexual life “against the order of nature” and contrary to the social norms of Belize.  So why are these same people, who are so concerned with homosexuals, not also threatened by me?  Why do they not fret about seeing ME holding hands with my partner and having to explain to their kids that sometimes men and women love each other without making babies?  Why are they not paranoid that people like ME are plotting to infiltrate the schools in order to indoctrinate children with our evil D.I.N.K. (double income no kids) agenda?  How come MY lack of offspring is not considered evidence that I must hate God or a sign that I am working to destroy the church?  Why do none of these “family values” Christians tell ME to start having kids or get the hell out of Belize?  Why has no one ever suggested that I may enjoy my childless relationship in secret but publicly I must pretend to be a parent?     

But most importantly, why are they not suggesting that S.53 should be used to put ME in prison for 10 years?

Oh that’s right, the anti-gay crusaders say the law is never used to lock anyone up, but we must keep it in tact just to remind everyone that homosexuality is not “normal”.  You know, like how in earlier times a severed head would be publicly displayed to serve as warning to others.  They say they don’t actually want to punish homosexuals; they just want them to feel intimidated.       

So OK then, why won’t these culture warriors at least hold the threat of S.53 over MY head to remind ME that I too am deviating from God’s plan and society’s expectations?

Is it because I am allowed to make my own choices on how, why and with whom I am sexually intimate?  Is it because I am free to decide what God wants for me and if I am wrong He will deal with me Himself?  Is it because I have the right to privacy?  Or is it because (as long as we are not harming anyone) my partner and I have the right our own sexuality?

The answer to all of the above is, YES.

But ONLY because I am physically intimate with a person of the opposite sex am I exempt from S.53 while others are not.  That’s why this law is unconstitutional.  That’s why it is abhorrent for anyone to defend this law on the basis moral and spiritual values or societal norms.

Once you selectively apply any law to a specific segment of society while exempting another you are violating the constitutional and fundamental human rights of the persecuted party.  So until the churches and other anti-gay crusaders come after ME and demand that I be charged under Section 53 they have no right to call for the continued criminalization of the consensual sexual activity of anyone.

So to people like Scott Stirm, Louis Wade, Dorick Wright, Eugene Crawford, Paul Rodriguez, etc. I say feel free to pray for me and ask God to bless me with the children I’ve deliberately avoided creating for all these years.  I welcome you to take to the airwaves and the newspapers to tell me about YOUR definition of family as intended by OUR creator.  Share with anyone who wants to listen to the select scriptures that support your intolerant point of view.  By all means continue to consider yourself the moral arbiter on who should have sex with whom, under what circumstances and in what manner.  Please continue to believe that anyone who lives his or her life in any way that is contrary to your personal belief system (even if they cause you no harm) is evil and will be punished by God.  That is your right.

But until you start advocating for the criminalization of people like me, and every other person who does not think, act, and copulate exactly as you deem natural and normal, I will continue to call you a hypocrite, a homophobe, and a bigot.