When Jamaica, Trinidad and St. Lucia Intersects, Belize LGBT movement building

Posted May 22nd, 2013

I can't say that I am surprise that Jamaica's Christian Right group Jamaican Coalition for Healthy Living sought to take PR advantage ( details http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Belize-case-said-being-used-to-push-gay-agenda-in-Caribbean) of the  coverage to section 53 calling the case,""part of a larger effort by the homosexual lobby to get buggery laws repealed in the Caribbean and push that lifestyle on the public." Lawyer, Lisa Shoman took a swipe and sent them a response to their PR effort that was published at http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/results/Resist-the-fear-mongering-cries-of-a-coming-Caribbean-Sodom-and-Gomorrah_14310289

While her response is classic, it seems regional movement building is going both ways for the christian right and the left. With attempts of the right seeking to unite advocates under one documentary and cases being in Belize, Jamaica and Guyana at about the same time. More importantly, the Christian right says we are pushing a foreign agenda, but what is more foreign than the origins of our churches being London, the US with the Evangelicals and Rome. I also must add that this is the pot calling the kettle black. May I point out  the Cultural Imperialism: The Sexual Rights Agenda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INKAv4Y-lW4 .This documentary alone can be argued to be pushing a Foreign Fundmentalist agenda on a public that is made up of non-denominational persons, Muslim, Bahai's Atheists, Buddhists, among others who do not share their thinking. The accusation of "pushing that lifestyle"  is the pot calling the kettle black as Shirley Richards and Sarah Flood Beauburn ( see news covering founding CARIFAM at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkfNCZf0jzA) of St. Lucia, Caribean Centre for Family and Human Rights have sought to push theocratic base policies without regard for the diversity in the region and the existence of fundamental rights and freedoms across the region. Ms. Beaubrun  Carribean Centre for Family and Human Rights on her website, says, not surprisingly, the following:

"CARIFAM recognizes the fundamental and intrinsic dignity of all people whatever their orientation. We recognize that for reasons not yet fully explained by science, persons may experience attraction to members of their own sex.  Overcoming these attractions can be a very painful challenge requiring the support, understanding and compassion of others.  For this reason we distinguish between those who have a homosexual tendency and those who promote homosexuality.  Our opposition to legalizing buggery (homosexual acts) is not an opposition to gay people but a recognition that marriage as between one man and one woman is for the common good – in the best interests of society" and then goes on to speak about 10 reasons why buggery should not e decriminalised see link for details http://carifam.com/resources/family

 I mentioned this organization, because one of its articles was posted in one of Belize's district base newspapers called "The STAR". They may have not been following, however, Ex gay leader John Paulk, Chair of Exodus International apologies for  saying religion will cure homosexuality. He can be quoted as saying,"‘Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people’. Folks in the Caribbean, including our Louis Wade and Scott Stirm believes in reparative therapy. Someone needs to send them the memo. More importantly CARIFAM seem to have not followed the changed position of Exodus International Chairman John Paulk see link for full story http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/%E2%80%98ex-gay%E2%80%99-leader-says-sorry-harm-caused-he%E2%80%99s-still-gay250413 . Need I say more.

The Section 53 case in Belize, intersecting with Jamaica and St. Lucia is that we have known for some time  there is a context. We have known for some time that Shirley Richards of Jamaica is a contact for Advocate International. This is important as she has had a history through Lawyers Christian Fellowship and collaboration with Dr. West and Dr. Doreen Brady-West to undermine women's health. Jamaica can be said to have its own external impact of American groups influencing or operating in that country. A meeting held in Jamaica in 2010 highlighted how American groups have sought to push the American Christian right  agenda. We know, for example that a meeting was held between November 5-7, 2010 with 50 lawyers from the Caribbean region whose agenda was to speak about the “Truth” of Human Rights from Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia, Guyana, Jamaica and other English speaking territories that was hosted by Advocates Caribbean in association with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship of Jamaica at Knutsford Courts Hotel. Among the international speakers were Pierro Tozzi, senior counsel for Global Alliance Defense fund; Justice, Alice Soo Hon, Judge of the Court of Appeals for Trinidad and Tobago and attorney at law Carla Soverall of Trinidad and Tobago who spoke on 'The Truth Behind Discrimination Law: The Constitution and Equal Opportunity Legislation'. Local Jamaican speakers spoke of The Truth Behind Abortion', with presenters Hyacinth Griffith, Jamaican attorney-at-law etc. So the discussion in Belize is not knew, in fact, there has been a coordinate effort to erode the fundamental rights and freedoms of L.G.B.T citizens across the Caribbean region  using legitimate spaces like the law and parliament. The effort has such value that a meeting was followed with plans for a 2012 meeting held on 21-23 September in Barbados with the theme ‘Sanctity of Life that was co-hosted by the AI Global Resource Team for the Sanctity of Life, headed by Justice Alice Soo Hon from Trinidad & Tobago. 
This is important for its a proactive attempt to block rights advancement in the region. Shirley Richards point of contact for Advocate International, helps to extend its work in a collaborative way, with Legal Fellowship, Alliance Defense Fund, World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Partnership and Peacemaker Ministries among others. 
So why is this important to mentioned, well, clearly Shirley Richards and her group is tracking our work in Belize, but we also do the same. Pierro Tozzi, for example, of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute showed up in Belize in 2010 and spokes about " The True Human Rights," with current wirmirs Stirm and Wade. He then, showed up at a University of the West Indies, presentation for Human Rights Day  in 2011 in Jamaica. Fellow activists Maurice Tomlinson reported:
…Among the persons who sacrificed an entire Saturday to be in attendance at this event (which ran from 8:30 a.m. to well after its stated end of 2:30) were two sitting judges of Jamaica’s Supreme Court, the country's Attorney General (who brought greetings on behalf of the Justice Minister), the Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission (which regulates content distributed via the electronic media), Jamaica's Chief Parliamentary Counsel (who is responsible for drafting the country’s laws), the Legal Counsel to all Parliamentarians, the Director of the Norman Law School Legal Aid Clinic (which is responsible for training all lawyers in Jamaica) and the Executive Director of the Airports Authority of Jamaica. Special mention was made of the presence of a Jamaican couple now residing in Britain who were denied the right to foster children there because they objected to homosexuality.   
The stated aims of the symposium were to:
1) Re-examine the role of law in society;
2) Increase public awareness of the potential danger that exists if human rights are freed from their traditional moral foundations;
3) Examine the subversive effect of the “fallacies” of popular human rights rhetoric on the democracy and

sovereignty of nations; and
4) Examine major human rights treaties.
During the nearly 7-hour symposium, the presenters extolled the virtues of Dominionism—the belief that countries must be governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law—and cautioned (actually, more like threatened) Jamaican Christians that if they don't organize a counter-offensive against the militant gay agenda sweeping the world, their beloved country will be overrun by aberrant ideas “hell bent” on destroying marriage, children, and, of course, Christianity.... Not only were they successful, as they constantly trumpet, in ensuring human rights for gays were not recognized in the constitution, they were able to get the country’s Attorney General to publicly declare at this forum that he has no intention of abiding by the Constitutional requirement to interpret human rights according to standards found in other free and democratic societies….. Source: http://www.aidsfreeworld.org/Publications-Multimedia/Countdown-to-Tolerance/2011/December/Christian-fundamentalists-homophobia-on-display.aspx

When we look at the TnT and what the Minister of Gender Policy said in Trinidad and Tobago  see link for details http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-05-18/coudray-gay-rights-out-proposed-gender-policy.The point is made in the story in the following way, "God still reigns supreme in T&T, according to the Constitution, and gay rights will not be a part of the Government’s draft national policy on gender and development." However, Belize launched its Gender Policy on May 16th, 2013, in the most progressive and strongest language ever that included the word sexual orientation among other language reference. In my mind, making it a regional leader on L.G.B.T rights in the region.

With PlusTV recent cries about the passed Belizean gender policy, we are seeing how one country action feeds the advocacy, media communication and fundamental rights and freedoms advancement across the region. Here is Plustv full story http://www.plustvbelize.com/news/belize-gay-rights-in-cabinet-gender-policy-trinidad-gay-rights-out/ and here is what a channel 5 news interview got a lawyer who works for the other side to say,http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/85720 inviting a coordinated attack on an policy where the document recognizes respect for diversity as a principle.

So now, the pressure is on to coordinate communication, advocacy, regional action to drive back the christian right in the region. The pressure is on for larger countries in the region to be more efficient in their approach to regionalism. How ideology, strategy, resources and vision clash to make things happen or go lull will be a telling sign of how far we get by natural organic means or brute force and necessity. One I do know, it did not work for the 40 years of battle down in Europe, Latin America and US. It will not work for the region, for they are using the same old tactics that have already proven to fail.


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