Saturday, January 11, 2014

A dollar amount linked to Homophobia, a lack of security and dignity in Belize

January 11th, 2014

The far right in Belize has spoken of homophobia as not being a problem in Belize because gay men are not killed in Belize like Jamaica or they are jailed like in Uganda. While the state has no laws, or intention to move aggressively against its L.G.B.T citizens, the lack of a legal framework that compensates individuals who experience hate and abuse will continue, as the state by indifference, omission or inaction have chosen to make the social and economic rights concern of its L.G.B.T citizens invisible. Through a lack of visibility in legislation, in proactive planning, in investment in training in the justice system, in public education are the main points of  concern. To be fair, the gender policy while progressive offers not guarantee of substantive commitment in the short-term, but only sets normative values in policy which can be considered in baby steps. Additionally, the government of Belize has made no no investment in research, nor ensuring that discriminatory concerns have a workable mechanism through which arbitration and penalization can occur. This gap in the system has led to the intensification of functional impunity by individuals and non-state actors who seek to ensure that the current legal framework remain the status quo. Not to be outdone, technical officers working within the confines of the Ministries of government, have limited their commitment to the population to health, but failed to tackle the barriers which promote institutionalized discrimination. So many are complicit through inaction, indifference and omission to avoid the concrete concerns of its L.G.B.T citizens without realizing that their unwillingness to address the concerns of L.G.B.T citizens, is in of itself, helps to sustain the status quo and helps to further support institutionalized homophobia and the issue of functional impunity.

The personal cost to violated personal sense of security, dignity and experiences of homophobia has been mounting since 2012. Just because I was tying to hawk out cold out of chest while walking up my stairs, my homophobic neighbor, passed the usual homophobic slurs, cause my sister to step unto the porch to argue with him and my mom from her house. The police eventually came to arbitrate the issue, but unbeknown to us, I discovered this evening the damage to my window. A damaged cause by by neighbor throwing a Guinness beer bottle at the side of my house, hours, just before the New Years, 2014, resulting in a cost of ($600bze). Other cost, as a result to homophobia has been lost of two teeth that needed a root canal and cap ($2,000bze); cost of insurance and license for the pass two years ($660bze), transportation cost ($12,480bze); damage to my car window ($150), lost of car battery($200) have been mounting. The total cost mounting to an estimated $16,090bze or ($8,045us) and counting. This does not include security cost, nor the cost of a second hand car from 1999.Imagery of the physical cost can be seen below:  
                                                                        





It all gets tiring to know the mounting cost, the psychological cost, cannot even be given a dollar value.  What can be noted, is self-induced social exile from anyone outside my immediate family; in ability to feel secure when strangers say high in support on the street. Limited social engagements to workshops, meetings and private social events which for the latter is few. Gone are the days when the bicycle was the preferred choice to get around Belize City. Gone are the days when I hated being in a car, but had to learn to drive at age 39. The side benefit is that I no longer have sustained motion sickness, but the down side is that I have gained six pounds in two years because of my sedimentary lifestyle of getting around. Most folks can take a run up the street, I have to worry how far I can go, where I can go and for how long without the usual homophobic slur. Still, while I accept my vulnerability associated with this work and in life, I do work through my fears and walk as far as possible, take the bus and use taxis as needed. To be clear, I don't see my situation as victimizing, but an opportunity that builds character, strengthens resolve to act, and shapes a personal vision that change must come. The clocking is ticking, so is the space for results. Still, the future is now!     




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