Saturday, November 30, 2013

The value of PETAL Belizean Lesbian and Bisexual Women Conversations

30th November, 2013

 The work of Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness for Lesbian and Bisexual Women (PETAL), interventions called "Conversations" is a concept started by Marla Simone Hill which seeks to highlights the nuances of issues impacting the LB  women in Belize.  Conversations, tends to look at Sexual and Sexual and Reproductive Rights issues in broad terms, its participatory and self-generating in its approach. Inspired by the lack of visibility of women in the current human rights dialogue, she has become a powerful force leading LB women in this groundbreaking intervention  to address the nuances of cervical cancer, relationship violence and section 53 education among other issues. Proof in the value of the intervention is reflected in the cases below which indicate the intervention is just touching surface of LB women  social concerns..


We don't often think of rights violations occurring among Lesbian and Bisexual women in Belize, but incidence of abuse do occur in immigration, in relationships and in the community. As the United Belize Advocacy Movement encourages capacity building through conversation among Lesbian and Bisexual (LB) women we have found rights-violations occurring differently in the community. The reality remains that while discrimination might be different, violence remains a threat to all. Here is an example of a young woman injured in 2012 in a little village in northern Belize. While family member put a beating on the fellow, the fact remains that most persons from the LB community do not have that kind of social capital to challenge intimidation.

In another case, on 17th March , 2013, a young women reported being punched on the left side of her face at the Queen Street Police Station around 4:00 o’clock in the morning. The officer was a creole male about 5”3 to 5’9, dark brown in regular uniform. To add insult to injury there were 4 other officers who was present, but just laughed. The partner 20 witness the punch and she tried to intervened, because she felt her partner was going to be punched again, so she sought to defend her partner, by hitting the officer who blocked her and eventually grabbed her roughly and in the process of being dragged by the arm was hit across the right of the face. After the 2nd hit, the officer walked outside the station. The mom was eventually called to pick up her daughter because the partner was not finished making her statement. After the mom arrived and consulted one of the officers, she was told that they should just drop everything because one of the women tried to assault an officer. All this happened after one of the girls phone was stolen and they decided to pursue the robber who was on a tiny bike.

The individual reported that she was robbed of a cell phone and shared,"The robbery happened at the corner of Baymen and 9th Street and happened around minutes to 2 o’clock in the morning. We pursued the robbers with the help of friends who picked up us while in pursuit and who helped us fine them. In a hurry, they left behind their little bikes which we took as evidence because they could not move fast with it. We took the bikes to my partner house and decided to go to the police station to make our report on the robbery. We were taken to the house where the bikes were and waited while my partner changed her clothes, the police wanted me to go alone, but I said no and that when their cooperative mood changed. While in the car, the driver of the car was listening to me over the phone talking to my sister who works at the hospital as I expressed my frustration that they were not listening to our concerns about scouting out the place to see if they could fine the robbers. While talking, one of the officer kept saying things like” Da Good!” referring to my comment and other words like “ nobady tell unu no fu be outa unu home. So I place the phone over the officer ear, where he said, “Just do it!” “Do it!” “Do it!” and I proceeded to shove him in his head. As I walked into the police station to make a report about the robbery, the police officer, upon entering the building punched me infront of at least 4 other officer who laughed. The officer was a dark brown creole man in regular uniform, about 5’3” to 5”9. Upon punching me, my partner witness the punched and intervene because she felt like he was going to punch me again and walked behind him to hit him, but he blocked the punched and upon the block, he hit her in the right side of her face while dragging her along while this was happening I was crying. Officer came out to see what was happening, but did nothing. After the 2nd punch the officer walked outside, as the four other officers watched and still did not do anything. I was left in the room to make a statement while my partner got picked up by her mom. I had to go get a medio-legal form which classified the injury as harm and did not leave till 5:00am. I returned to deliver the medio-legal form much later."

The 3rd case, Pamela Perez reported murder by partner Rosalilia Castillo 2012  highlights the point that when the state shirks its responsibilities in promoting the legislative protecting all its citizens, the dignity and constitutional rights will be lost with or eroded with impunity. Perez death and the young lesbian above injury, highlights the importance that legislative action matters. Whether in defining hate crime or addressing the broader definition of spouse  in the domestic violence legislation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project reveals

Posted: 13th November, 2013
Transgender Europe: TDOR Press Release November 13th 2013
Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project reveals
238 killings of trans people in the last 12 months
In total, since January 2008 the murders of 1,374 trans people have been reported

The 15th International Transgender Day of Remembrance is being held on November 20th 2013: Since 1999 the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), on which those trans people who have been victims of homicide are remembered, takes place every November. The TDOR raises public awareness of hate crimes against trans people, provides a space for public mourning and honours the lives of those trans people who might otherwise be forgotten. Started in the USA, the TDOR is now held in many parts of the world. In the past, the TDOR took place in more than 180 cities in more than 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
Sadly, this year there are 238 trans persons to be added to the list to be remembered, mourned and honoured.
The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project started in April 2009 and systematically monitors, collects and analyses reports of homicides of trans people worldwide. Updates of the results, which have been presented in July 2009 for the first time, are published on the website of the “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” project two to three times a year in form of tables, name lists, and maps:
Every year in November, Transgender Europe provides a special update of the TMM results for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance so as to assist activists worldwide in raising public awareness of hate crimes against trans people. The TDOR 2013 update has revealed a total of 238 cases of reported killings of trans people from November 20th 2012 to November 1st 2013:
The update shows reports of murdered trans people in 26 countries in the last 12 months, with the majority from Brazil (95), Mexico (40), the USA (16), and Venezuela (15), followed by Honduras (12), Colombia (12), and El Salvador (5). While Brazil, Mexico, and the USA have the highest absolute numbers, the relative numbers show even more worrisome results for some countries with smaller population sizes. Honduras, for instance, has a rate of 1.5 reported trans killings per million inhabitants, for El Salvador the rate is 0.71, while for Brazil the rate is 0.49, for Mexico the rate is 0.36, and for the USA the rate is 0.05. In Asia most reported cases have been found in India (8), and in Europe in Turkey (5) and Italy (5).
Attached to this press release you can find a map, which demonstrates the absolute figures of reports found worldwide from November 20th 2012 to November 1st 2013.
Another worrisome result of the TMM TDOR 2013 update is that from January 1st to October 31st 2013, the TMM registered the highest numbers of reported murders of minors since TGEU started the TMM. In the first 10 months of 2013 already 22 trans persons under 20 years have been reported murdered. Half of them have been under 18 years. Among these 11 murdered minors was a 13-year old trans girl, who has been found strangled in the city of Macaiba in Brazil on June 9th 2013, a 14-year old trans girl, who has been found strangled in the city of Ibipora in Brazil on October 15th 2013, and also 16-year-old „Dwayne“ Jones, who was kicked out of her home with 14, and on July 22nd 2013 attended for the first time a party in female clothing in St. James, Jamaica, where she was chased and brutally murdered by party-goers, who formed a mob, when they realized that she was a trans person. In total 108 murders of trans people under 20 years have been reported since 2008: 14 in 2008, 19 in 2009, 13 in 2010, 21 in 2011, 19 in 2012, and 22 in the first ten months of 2013.
The TDOR 2013 update reveals a total of 1,374 reported killings of trans people in 60 countries worldwide from January 1st 2008 to October 31st 2013. It is important to note that these cases are those that could be found through Internet research and through cooperation with trans organizations and activists. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.
The alarming figures demonstrate once more that there is an urgent need to react to the violence against trans people and to seek mechanisms to protect trans people. Some international trans activists even started to introduce the term ‘transcide’ to reflect the continuously elevated level of deadly violence against trans people on a global scale and a coalition of NGOs from South America and Europe started the “Stop Trans Genocide” campaign.
Cases have been reported from all major World Regions (Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania), evoking an evermore gruesome picture, especially given the very partial knowledge we are able to gain in many places. More detailed information and a map showing the 1,374 reported murders of trans people is available at:
Throughout all six world regions, the highest absolute numbers have been found in countries with strong trans movements and trans or LGBT organizations that do a professional monitoring: Brazil (539), Mexico (144), Colombia (76), Venezuela (70) and Honduras (60) in Central and South America, the USA (85) in North America, Turkey (34) and Italy (26) in Europe, and India (30) and the Philippines (29) in Asia.
The close connection between the existence of strong trans movements and professional monitoring on the one hand, and highest absolute numbers of reports, on the other hand, point to a worrisome question: the question of unreported cases. Beside the need for mechanisms to protect trans people, this connection also shows the need for strong trans communities and organizations, which are capable of professional monitoring and reporting of violence against trans people. Furthermore this connection results in the fact, that the figures show only the tip of the iceberg of homicides of trans people on a worldwide scale.
More than 1,000 reported murders of trans people in Central and South America since 2008
The new result update moreover reveals that in the last 70 months:
1,074 killings of trans people have been reported in Central and South America, which account for 78 % of the globally reported murders of trans people since January 2008. In this region, there has been the strongest increase in reports and with 22 countries Central and South America is the best documented region.
117 killings of trans people have been reported in Asia in 16 countries;
87 killings of trans people have been reported in North America;
84 killings of trans people have been reported in Europe in 12 countries;
8 killings of trans people have been reported in Africa in 4 countries;
4 killings of trans people have been reported in Oceania in 4 countries.

Attached to this press release you can find tables showing the details and a map, which demonstrates the absolute figures of reports found worldwide since January 2008.
While the documentation of killings of trans people is indispensable for demonstrating the shocking extent of human rights violations committed against trans people on a global scale, there is also a need for in-depth research of various other aspects related to the human rights situation of trans people. Therefore, Transgender Europe developed the Trans Murder Monitoring project into the ‘Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide’ research project (TvT). TvT is a comparative, ongoing qualitative-quantitative research project, which provides an overview of the human rights situation of trans people in different parts of the world and develops useful data and advocacy tools for international institutions, human rights organizations, the trans movement and the general public. In November 2012 Transgender Europe published the TvT research report “TRANSRESPECT VERSUS TRANSPHOBIA WORLDWIDE - A Comparative Review of the Human-rights Situation of Gender-variant/Trans People”, which discusses and contextualizes the key findings of the TvT project. You can download the research report here:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Report on Hearings of Belize and TnT Immigration Law Challenge

Reposted 12th, November, 2013
Day One Report of Hearings into Belize and TnT Immigration Law Challenge: 
Today, 12th November,  the Caribbean Court of Justice heard arguments via teleconference by legal representatives of Maurice Tomlinson, the state of Belize and the state of Trinidad and Tobago. Lord Gifford, representing Tomlinson, petitioned the court to allow Tomlinson leave to bring a case before the court, seeking redress for violations of his free movement rights guaranteed under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to nationals of CARICOM member states. He alleges that sections of the immigration laws of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago which prohibit the entry of homosexual persons into those countries, violate his rights. The hearing today was simply to determine whether Tomlinson, a homosexual, can bring the case which, if granted permission, he will bring in the near future.

Gifford presented his case that leave should be granted, to which Belize and Trinidad and Tobago responded. Gifford was then allowed to respond to the states’ arguments. Both Belize and Trinidad and Tobago argued that Tomlinson should not be granted leave to bring the case.

Belize, by its lawyer, Nigel Hawke, argued that the term ‘homosexual’ as used in the Belize Immigration Act referred to a homosexual prostitute and not just a homosexual, although the Act prohibits ‘homosexuals’ on a plain reading of it. Hawke argued that his interpretation reflected the Belize government’s position and referred to the written testimony submitted on behalf of the Belize government, saying that Belize Immigration Authorities do not prevent homosexuals from entering Belize. He referred to the fact that Tomlinson himself had entered Belize four times.

Tomlinson says in his written testimony that he had been to both Belize and Trinidad and Tobago on multiple occasions, prior to knowing of the laws. He says that since he came to know of them, he has had to refuse invitations to visit both countries. Gifford Q.C, relied on cases to show that even if the government claimed they didn’t enforce a law, it could still operate to restrict people’s rights. The essence of the argument runs that the law makes de facto criminals of homosexuals who enter, forcing some people to alter their behaviour. In Maurice’s case the behaviour which was altered (travelling to Belize and to Trinidad and Tobago) was a behaviour he was entitled to by right as a national of a CARICOM member state.

The court seemed unsatisfied by the Belize government’s written evidence that they didn’t prohibit homosexuals, questioning Hawke as to whether they should require further evidence. Justice Nelson even asked Hawke what was the relevance of state practice, inviting him to respond to Gifford’s arguments that the law in and of itself restricted Tomlinson’s rights, irrespective of whether the state enforced it or not. Hawke contended that Belize’s practice of not prohibiting homosexuals evidences the Belize government’s interpretation of the law as argued by Hawke.

When asked whether the court should issue a declaration that the allegedly offending section of the law referred to homosexual prostitutes only as argued by Hawke, Hawke responded that that wasn’t necessary because the Belize government already understood it to mean that.

Trinidad through its lawyer, Seenath Jairam, appearing with Wayne Sturge and a host of other attorneys, argued that what is relevant in determining whether a treaty had been violated was the impeached state’s practice. He argued that Trinidad and Tobago had a policy of non enforcement of the law, which he interpreted to refer to homosexuals and not homosexual prostitutes as Belize argued. The allegedly offending provisions in both laws (primarily s. 5(1)(e) of the Belize Immigration Act and 8(1) (e)of the Trinidad and Tobago Act) are almost identical. Jairam supported his arguments with such cases as the recent Shanique Myrie decision (

Jairam argued that because Trinidad and Tobago’s state practice was such that it didn’t prevent homosexuals from entering and that because Tomlinson was not prevented from entering before, the application was “an academic exercise”. He drew a comparison to hanging, saying that Trinidad and Tobago had laws on its books which allowed hanging but that they nonetheless did not hang. When asked by the court whether that meant that hanging was illegal, he responded that that was a matter for the constitutional court. He alluded to the fact that governments had financial constraints and that there were costs involved in repealing laws. Incidentally that has not prevented Trinidad and Tobago from repealing other laws it wished to repeal.

Jairam argued further that Tomlinson could have applied for a special permit from the Minister responsible for immigration as Sir Elton John did back in 2007. Gifford had earlier pointed the court to the section of the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Act which permitted the Minister responsible for Immigration to grant the special permit, spoken of by Jairam, to a specific group of prohibited persons only. This group did not include homosexuals, a fact it seems that was overlooked by Trinidad and Tobago authorities in 2007 when Sir Elton John was granted a special permit to enter.

Justice Nelson expressed concern over whether a policy was sufficient protection of the rights guaranteed to nationals of CARICOM countries, asking rhetorically, “what happens when government changes?” He also asked Jairam non rhetorically whether the court should strike out the allegedly offending sections since they weren’t enforced. Jairam responded, to the bemusement of many in the court, that the court should not strike out the sections because that might allow terrorists to enter the country.

Lord Gifford Gifford responded to the State’s arguments by reiterating that a policy was just a policy and was subject to change with any given government. He also reiterated that the mere existence of the laws, whether they were enforced or not, was sufficient to restrict a person’s rights.

The court reserved its judgment which we expect will be delivered tomorrow.