Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Nazification of Caribbean Leaders: Chucking Citizens dignity and Rights out the door.

28th, April, 2015

At the Parliamentary Assembly of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, meeting at its 35th Session in Strasbourg, France on 14 and 19 March 2014, leaders supported a declaration against the suspension of Nigeria and Uganda from negotiations of the Cotonou Agreement for its criminalisation of own L.G.B.T citizens  A declaration which spoke of 'that democracy and human rights do not allow forceful imposition of unilateral points of view by one country over another sovereign country;' and goes on to say,'the laws passed in Uganda and Nigeria were proposed by democratically elected Parliaments, and complied with all the necessary legislative procedures, including consultations with a cross-section of their populations;' lost on me is how the rights and dignity of citizens can be subsumed by sovereignty rights. The declaration goes to speak of, 'its rejection of any attempt to pressure the ACP countries into accepting values contrary to the wishes and aspirations of their peoples'

In August, 2014. the Ugandan court said in its ruling,"The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was quorum" . "We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally." The essence of the law as reported by the Guardian said in December, 2013, 'The bill, rushed through by MPs on Friday, also bans the promotion of homosexuality and makes it a crime punishable by prison not to report gay people to the authorities or to conduct a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples.' The Bill was tabled without notice, but the declaration from A.C.P states would lead us to believe that it was,'the laws passed in Uganda and Nigeria were proposed by democratically elected Parliaments, and complied with all the necessary legislative procedures, including consultations with a cross-section of their populations.' It seems the region leaders in the Caribbean would vote to support the Nazis in their quests to get rid of Jews, under the claims of Sovereign Rights. More importantly, spoke of a,' ..forceful imposition of unilateral points of view.'

But what happens when a national court offers an interpretation of a country constitutional frameworks. The declaration totally ignored, the 2011, Ugandan ruling on rolling stone, the 2013 ruling of Audrey Mbugna Ithiba, of 2013. The rolling stones ruling in January, 2011, about four years before the declaration  point out the following:

In considering whether the Rolling Stone’s publication of alleged homosexuals’ names, addresses and preferred social hang-outs constituted a violation of the applicant’s constitutional rights, the Court, ruled that:
1) The motion is not about homosexuality per se, but ‘...it is about fundamental rights and freedoms,’ in particular about whether ‘the publication infringed the rights of the applicants or threatened to do so’.
2) The jurisdiction of Article 50 (1) of the Constitution is dual in nature, in that it extends not just to any person ‘whose fundamental rights or other rights or freedoms have been infringed in the first place,’ but also to ‘persons whose fundamental rights or other rights or freedoms are threatened to be infringed.’
3) Inciting people to hang homosexuals is an attack on the right to dignity of those thus threatened: ‘the call to hang gays in dozens tends to tremendously threaten their right to human dignity.’

 4) Homosexuals are as entitled to the right to privacy as any other citizens. Against the ‘objective test’, ‘the exposure of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants for the purposes of fighting gayism and the activities of gays...threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their homes.....’

The court further awarded UGX. 1,500,000/= to each of the applicants, as well as ordering that the applicant shall recover their costs from the respondents. The court issued a permanent injunction preventing The Rolling Stone and their managing editor, Mr. Giles Muhame, from ‘any further publications of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants and homosexuals generally.’

While politicians are not always lawyers, it is clear that parliamentarians do no follow legal precedence and are challenged to improve their  basic understanding of international and national legal obligations. If they did, this badly worded declaration would have reflected the rights of citizens in the overall statement. In addition to the Rolling Stones case, the case of Audrey Mbugua Ithibu, further adds, not only national values, but national interpretation of fundamental rights.

In a case brought by Audrey Mbugua Ithibu, who was seeking to have her name, replaced on documents issued by the Kenya National Examination Council certifying she had passed educational exams ruled, The court said,
“The court takes judicial notice of the fact that examinations in this country are not administered based on the gender of the candidate. Marks are also not awarded based on gender. Removal of the gender mark will therefore not dilute the quality of the certificate,” Korir reportedly said.

In addition to this ruling, the Kenyan court ruled in the case of G v Odunga, case 308A of 2013. The court ruled, ' Apart from the foregoing, it is my view that to discriminate persons and deny them freedom of association on the basis of gender or sex is clearly unconstitutional. That would contravene the provisions of Article 27(4)of the Constitution which provides that;The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience,belief, culture, dress, language or birth.'

Furthermore, the positive ruling on the Kenya, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, (NGLHRC) reported April, 27th, 2015 on buzzfeed, showed that the EU position to suspend both countries from the Cotonou agreement, was an accurate reflection of legal obligations to uphold basic human rights concerns. This seem to have been lost on the crafters of the declaration.

That states find sovereign rights, more important, than their national legal obligations to protect their L.G.B.T citizens, begs the question. If not them, then who is to protect their citizens? More importantly, the recent legal decision in the NGLHRC ruling cements the point that nations, including Caribbean nations are already legally obligated to their L.G.B.T citizens.The Kenyan judge decisions support  such a premise in the following way, “An interpretation of non-discrimination which excludes people based on their sexual orientation would be in conflict with the principles of human dignity, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, and non-discrimination” the three judge panel held in a portion of their ruling interpreting three sections of the Kenyan constitution concerning fundamental rights. Even in Tomlinson v TJL, CVM Ltd and the Public broadcasting of Jamaica the court acknowledged, "(28) it is perhaps to be recognised that the claimant cannot seek redress for any allegations of discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation as the charter does not afford that protection specifically. This maybe viewed as a significant deficiency in this charter, but it is to be noted  that the first paragraph of the charter  is comprehensive enough to point to a view that it be interpreted to embrace all the rights and responsibilities of all Jamaicans."  The shameful language of ACP states in the declaration, suggest that state value complicity in the violation of and subsuming of citizens rights, in the name of Sovereign Rights. 

Seshauna writes in a piece called Maurice Tomlison verse Television Jamaica Ltd..., "The corresponding horizontality section of the South African Constitution has been said to embrace a conception of liberalism which recognizes that ‘the real issue regarding the application of fundamental rights is …about how all kinds of power are distributed throughout a polity and what that means for the lives of individuals and the associations that inhabit the larger political community.’ Despite repeated references to the South African provision and the suggestion that it was conceived in an ethos of equality, the Jamaican Court did not take sufficient notice of the context of power distribution that arose in the case before it."

The declaration and Seshuna writing implies that protection and enforcement of rights is about power distribution. The implication is that distribution can either cause harm or be supportive depending on the views of the L.G.B.T communities among CariCOM member states, or state leaders who are generally complicit by indifference, inaction and omission to uphold oppressive social and institutionalised systems that perpetuate mistreatment and violence against their own L.G.B.T citizens. Furthermore when the St. Lucia Foreign Minister Alva Bapiste will show up at an event on Non-discrimination and Development, in Brussels in 2012 and call it, privately, 'a trick,' while leaders fail to endorse a roadmap on discrimination because 140 religious groups, sent a statement about the roadmap,'reordering society,' speaks volumes to the commitment of regional leaders to the fundamental rights of its L.G.B.T citizens. More importantly, reflected how current social power distributions between the religious extremists and marginalise can be set aside for political convenience, instead of leadership and responding to legal obligations. 

The Nazification of the region, is not about genocide, but about states refusal to invest in legislation and mechanism that directly extents protections and rights enforcement base on sexual orientation and gender identity; setting up systems that address discrimination; invest in interventions that builds the capacity of the justice system to respond to issues base on sexual orientation and gender identity. Leaving the responsibility of rights defence and protection solely to the individual affected while keeping policies and practices that act as barriers to advance social and cultural transformation, does not uphold human dignity.  In addition, a failure of any cabinet to take a formal positions as state, policy in what its fiduciary responsibility is to its L.G.B.T citizens, is at minimum, dubious. Either way, state refusal to deal with its L.G.B.T  citizens cost lives ,erodes human dignity and promotes exclusion.

Belize, has made some strides through its Gender Policy, it however, does not have an official state position on its L.G.B.T citizens; its investment in rights remain minimal and cabinet leaders specific commitment, to its legal responsibility towards its L.G.B.T citizens remain ambiguous, at best. The Nazification of Belize, is as issue of inequitable distribution of social power, a failure to lead and distorted privileged realities. The solution it seems is the use of National Supreme Courts to correct, systemic oppression to construct systems of support to advance dignity and rights.  He who feels it, knows it and will do something about it, seems to be the order of the day.

See below:
3rd January, 2011
Court Ruling on 'Hang Them' Tabliod

Non-Discrimination and Development
20th, December, 2013
Ugandan MP's Rush through draconion Law Against homosexuality.

1st August, 2014
Law Declared null and void

8th October, 2014
Court Defends Trans Rights

Ruling of GvOdunga

LGBT Rights Victory Kenya on NGLHRC

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Western Imposition or Knowledge Deficit? The Road of Political Engagement

22nd April, 2015

I was at a presentation at Michaal Kirby lecture called: Can the Commonwealth of Nations Survive? A Dismal Story of Human Rightsand it was fascinating to listen to the evolution of the Commonwealth. What was clear from the presentation was that political rights did not occur without a cost.

He explained that The Commonwealth of Nations being a voluntary association of 53 states, constitute more than 25% of the membership of the United Nations; nearly 40% of the World Trade Organisation; more than 35% of the Organisation of American States; and just under 40% of the African union. The represent 26% of the South East Asian Association for Regional Cooperation; around 90% of the Caribbean Community and Pacific Islands Forum and over 20% of the Organisation of Islamic Countries.

He pointed out that litigation helped to advance rights, among Commonwealth countries came 'in a number of courtroom',..For Example, ' in Botswana;[1] Kenya;[2] Malaysia;[3] and Australia... In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Bermuda found in favour of a same-sex couple who complained about their inability jointly to adopt a child whom they were raising together. The Supreme Court of Bermuda held that the case was one of direct discrimination against unmarried couples because of their marriage status and indirect discrimination against them because of sexual orientation... Fiji (lately readmitted to the Commonwealth) adopted constitutional provisions in 2013 prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression’.... A minor amendment was made in Samoa by the Crimes Act 2013 deleting ‘indecency between males’ from the Crimes Ordinance 1961. The same amendment in 2013 removed the previous offence of a ‘male impersonating a woman...’Rwanda where the President terminated a Bill to introduce a sodomy crime saying that it was not part of that country’s legal tradition (which had been Belgian). Similarly Mozambique adopted a new Penal Code in July 2014. This removed a previous provision criminalising same sex sexual conduct even though between consenting adults...The hard work for removal was done by the local legislature after local civil society organisations sought reform, supported by the United Nations.'

Kirby goes on to point out the culture of indifference in the Commonwealth and referred to the efforts of the EPG or Eminent Persons Groups to recommend support for a commissioner. The EPG at the Perth CHOGM  2011, found out,'Effectively, the Secretary-General’s negative opinion torpedoed the proposal for a commissioner.' When this is placed in context with addressing the political commitment to the rights of L.G.B.T individuals, he reports,

'Perhaps the most virulent opposition to the EPG recommendations on HIV/AIDS and sexuality came from The Gambia. On 9 October 2014, President Yahya Jammeh signed into law an amendment of the Criminal Code Act 2014 introducing life imprisonment for a broad and vaguely worded offence of “aggravated homosexuality”. He described homosexuality as “satanic behaviour”. According to the Human Dignity Trust website, 8 persons were arrested under the new law after November 2014, including a 17 year old boy. President Jammeh, who originally came to office following a coup d’├ętat, claimed in January 2015, that L.G.B.T people and supportive Western nations, like the United States of America, were parts of an “evil empire”. Of one development, however, we can take satisfaction. Just prior to the 2013 CHOGM, President Jammeh announced that he was taking Gambia out of the Commonwealth. The Secretary-General, instead of taking the opportunity to express hopes for the country’s return, to the Commonwealth should have insisted, in a clear voice, that the nation’s laws were an affront to the Commonwealth Charter and to universal human rights...

He goes in his presentation, 'Not a week goes by, but reports are published concerning serious human rights violations in Commonwealth countries. These include: 
* The imposition by the State of Punjab High Court in Pakistan of the death sentence against a Christian mother of five Asia Bibi. Human Rights Watch says that the blasphemy law has long been unduly misused to target religious minorities;[4]

* The about turn of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, following an earlier promise to introduce repeal of that country’s Sedition Act, a legacy of colonial rule, adopted first to deter antagonistic protest against the Government but used now for contemporary means of control;[5] and

*The complaints in the UN Human Rights Council against the alleged refoulement by Australia of Sri Lankan refugee applicants arriving in recent years by boat. These steps were part of a legal regime to which the refugee applicants have been subjected, under successive governments, to “enhanced screening process”.[6]  '

What the presentation did was to offer insight into how countries of the commonwealth value human rights in practice and how present weak mechanism and political responses of the commonwealth has helped to perpetuate abuses. More precisely, it offers, a context into, the not so unique practice of ignoring the civil, social and political rights of citizens.    
Belize is no different in this regard, the Maya's of Belize fought for close to 30 years for customary land rights acknowledgement and used the courtroom  as a tool to hold the state accountable for its lack of recognition. It finally succeeded in 2015. The strength and effectiveness of Civil Society,it seems, in using democratic tools like, international systems at the OAS, UN or national and regional courts, seems to be the last bastion of upholding commonwealth values in practice. What is clear is that Civil Society has a clear role in advancing rights, in an environment where political leader lack knowledge about their legal responsibility to their L.G.B.T citizens. This is reflected in in the idea that that L.G.B.T issues is a Western Imposition,despite, constitutions across the commonwealth, which speaks to all citizens rights. For Belize, the education, laws, religion, political system are western concepts that have been adopted already. The laws specifically, were adopted from the British. More precisely, the constitution, does not say fundamental rights extends only to heterosexuals and as such, leaders already have a legal responsibility to protect all their citizens. Regionally, among CARICOM member states political leaders, seems to play on national values, which is self-serving that reflect, the self-interest and personal prejudice of political leaders willing to absolve their legal responsibility. So what makes leaders resist acknowledging their legal responsibilities? Is anyone guess, one can theorize, personal prejudice, never meeting anyone L.G.B.T, being in the closet themselves, self-interest in sustaining personal power, are just some assumptions.  

What is clear,is that courtroom process is just one layer in the march to equality, shadow reports in international treaty obligations, a regional court in the Caribbean and public engagement around diversity, seems to be the compliment.

In a process in 2011, U.N.D.P in collaboration with WIN Belize was able to organize a National Dialogue on Human Right where Michael Kirby appeared by video at the Radission in Belize. We influence that process and saw, the planning given life in the process.

It was clear, however, that U.N.D.P role is to provide technical assistance, as it maintains a fragile balance of diplomatic relations and supporting civil society in rights engagement in Belize. To have call our government to task, would have disturbed its diplomat standing. Furthermore, in advocacy, one realises that its about timing, strategy, human relations and politics and that getting attention for an issue can be either a cloudy or clear process. 
It is clear to me that L.G.B.T advocates domestic and international is affected by political messages and that we have a responsibility to share strategies to help transform policy norming, development interventions, mechanisms and laws into a process that is accessible, reliable, and helpful in holding national system accountable for the lack of protections that exists. More importantly, international spaces are vital, in leverage political engagements, nationally. This also applies to international spaces that can be used to advance funding targeting areas, policy priorities and development positions on a global scale. In the end, the idea that we can progress with our rights, in societies that are accustom to marginalising groups, is to ignore fundamentally that no society will just acknowledge rights of a marginalised group without opposition. 

[1] “Gaberone High Court Ruled in Favour of LGBABIBO Barred from Registration by Department of Labor & Home Affairs” 14 November 2014.
[2] Court is considering an application the National Gay & Lesbian H.R. Group to be registered as a NGA, Kenya..
[3] Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 7 November 2014, Khamis v State Government of Negeri Sembilan and Ors (Prohibition on cross-dressing held void).
[4] The Australian, 13 February 2015, 8 (“Pakistan to Defend Blasphemy Accused”).
[5] BBC News, Asia, 2 July 2013 (“Malaysia PM Najib Razak makes sedition pledge” but see “Malaysia’s creeping authoritarianism”, Wall Street Journal, 17 March 2015, 12.
[6] E. Howie, “Understanding Australia’s Opposition to the Investigation by the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka’s War Crimes”, CHRI, Newsletter (2014) Vol. 21, no. 2, 5.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Knowing Political Structures to Advance LGBT Rights: Comparative Analysis of the UK, the CARICOM, and Belize

Posted 19th April, 2015

In my years of doing Advocacy, I have met many people with titles, like Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, UN Special Envoy for the Caribbean Dr. Edward Greene, in Belize. the Canadian High Commissioner and the list goes on. What has not taken place is an analysis of the national and international environment under which L.G.B.T issues must advance. To be clear, this blog is not about making a decision about the rights or wrongs of the past, but offers on prospective, as we seek to advance L.G.B.T concerns in Belize, in networks like CARIFLAGS and engage in international spaces. Advocacy experience teaches that we look at one issue at a time. But can we, as we are one group, in  sea of concerns that is affected by history, social marginalisation and possibly Pink-washing. Do we march ahead in our desperate attempt to get protections at any cost, our do we seek a balance. How that will balance out is anyone guess, only time will tell. The references below only offer one layer of why developing countries resist addressing L.G.B.T issues. It is not the only layer in the internationalization of rights.

According to Physician for Social Responsibility report called Body Count (see below for link) that studies the effect of the War on Terror on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Executive Summary report, March, 2015 says:

'This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.'

When one looks at British history, the case of India comes to mind, George MonBiot wrote in 2005;

In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis tells the story of the famines which killed between 12 and 29 million Indians(1). These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy.

When an El Nino drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at height of the famine, grain merchants exported a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat. As the peasants began to starve, government officials were ordered “to discourage relief works in every possible way”(2). The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 prohibited “at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices.” The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. Within the labour camps, the workers were given less food than the inmates of Buchenwald. In 1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of 94%.

The writer article adds, at, '.. least twenty such atrocities overseen and organised by the British government or British colonial settlers: they include, for example, the Tasmanian genocide, the use of collective punishment in Malaya, the bombing of villages in Oman, the dirty war in North Yemen, the evacuation of Diego Garcia.'

In a separate article, Michiko Kakutani wrote in 1998:

...'Under the reign of terror instituted by King Leopold II of Belgium (who ran the Congo Free State as his personal fief from 1885 to 1908), the population of the Congo was reduced by half -- as many as 8 million Africans (perhaps even 10 million, in Hochschild's opinion) lost their lives...' He continues

'..Marchal, the Belgian scholar, estimates that Leopold drew some 220 million francs (or $1.1 billion in today's dollars) in profits from the Congo during his lifetime. Much of that money, Hochschild suggests, went to buying Leopold's teen-age mistress, a former call girl named Caroline, expensive dresses and villas, and building ever grander monuments, museums and triumphal arches in honor of the king...'

Whether these reports are more nuance in complexity in their local political and social environments, the point is made that human rights violations have a long history, as L.G.B.T activists around the world seeks to do international work, they must all understand the context of that history, as work continues in political engagement with power structures that few understand in its complexity.

We don't have a complicated political system in Belize and among the 11 CARICOM member states that criminalised same sex activity. What we have is a challenged in understanding our power structures,rules of parliament, parties and legislative processes at the national level. While at the regional level, its about defining regional vision, common themes in policy advancement, addressing research structures at the political level to make a case for reform; improving knowledge of regional mechanism and power brokers and facilitating sustained regional action. More importantly, we are challenged to recognised the long-term end-game in the region. With all this said, CARIFLAGS offers L.G.B.T issues a regional level mechanism. The question is how do we take advantage of any mechanism?

Mechanisms, it seems, start with understanding, the political structure under which L.G.B.T citizens live. When one look at Westminister and compare political environment of Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Guyana and Belize, activists seems to hold inadequate knowledge of how to engage political systems at home. More precisely, comparative analysis shows us that we have an advantage politically in the following way 1). Our systems of government is centralised 2). We need not duplicate our issues at the national level multiply times. Furthermore, our system does not have four different forms of parliament like the UK has among Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales to engage politically. Looking deeper into Scotland political structures, for example,  it seems, after the establishment of Parliament,  approving laws  must go through  the Scottish parliamentary, even if WestMinister approves. A process, which calls for civil society concern about diversity issues to duplicate human and financial resources, to ensure there is rights protection in Scotland.

Further observations revealed that the political power structure have been devolved, making law reform a decentralised process in the UK. For example, a referendum was held on 11 September 1997 to ask the Scottish people whether they wanted a Scottish Parliament and whether it should have tax-varying powers. A clear majority of voters voted yes and in 1998 The Scotland Act became law. 

The people of Scotland elects 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). MSPs represent their constituents on devolved matters in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh while, an additional, 59 MPs represents Scotland in the House of Commons at Westminster in London. Their role is to represent their constituents on reserved matters. MSPs and MPs are elected by separate general elections.

In addition, with the elections in 2011 in Scotland and the Scottish National Party, a referendum on Scottish independence was tabled to the public. The results, helped to shape efforts on 18 September 2014 to try to transfer further powers to the Scottish Parliament in areas such as taxation, welfare and power’s over Scottish Parliament and local government elections in Scotland.

When Wales is looked at more closely, research revealed that it has a devolved assembly which comprises 60 members, who are known as assembly members, elected for four years, under an additional membership system. 40 represent geographical constituencies and 20 elected by the plurality system while 20 represent 5 electoral regions.The assembly was created by the Wales Act of 1998 following a referendum in 1997. Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult, in certain matters, with the UK parliament or Secretary of state  for Wales.

At present, the National Assembly for Wales does not have powers in areas of defence, tax or welfare benefits. In March, 2011 the voters of Wales support the referendum so the Assembly could make laws for 20 subject areas, such as agriculture, education, the environment, health, housing, local government.

When the Parliament of Northern Ireland was established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, it was intended to establish two devolved Parliaments, within the UK and lasted till 30th March, 1972 when the Act was suspended to introduced direct rule from Westminister. This ended 8th May, 2007 when parliamentary arrangements devolved to include 15 areas called transferred matters while West Minister retained control over 12 expected matters areas, like defence, constitution, international relations, currency, security, energy, international treaties, conferring honours. There is also a reference to reserve matter which has 11 areas that the Northern Ireland can legislate with consent from WestMinister.

Analysis of the UK political system revealed that UniBAM does not have four systems of parliament that it needs to address in advancing its concerns around L.G.B.T human rights, neither does St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad nor Guyana, as all have one central government. What is clear is that activist and organizations alike need not duplicate resources and political mobilisation to address national anti-sodomy or buggery laws or to address concerns about discrimination or violence legislation. What we need to understand in our countries are the political rules at the national level like 1)Who are the power brokers in each political party. 2).Who helps to lead and shape a party's manifesto. 3).When does the manifesto development occur. 4). Establish how L.G.B.T organization can help to influence the contents of the manifesto. 5). Develop intimate political engagement processes to improve politicians knowledge and response to L.G.B.T citizens and 5). Study legislative procedures and identify a political champion to act.

Beyond this, L.G.B.T organizations in the region have not advance legal capacity to 1). Analyzed constitutional frame works to identified legal gaps in national subsidiary laws, 2). Improved knowledge about the rules of national parliaments legislative processes 3). Identified, sufficiently, the power brokers who drive legislative development nationally and regionally. 4). Identified, the mechanisms that drive reform at national and regional spaces.

While litigation on Belize and Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Act is still on-going at the Caribbean Court of Justice, legal processes are on-going in Guyana (cross-dressing case) and in Jamaica ( media challenge) and Belize section 53. Litigation, is just one strategy in the fight to sustain calls to action for political acknowledgement and policy advancement. In Belize, we have complimented litigation with public education using art, pride events, ADS, conferences to amplify its public education work. What we have seen, is the the region and small countries like Belize have moved faster on the use communication plans to complement its litigation strategy.

The use of litigation is not unique among CARICOM member states, nor in Belize which leads the region with two litigation efforts at the regional and national court system. In the UK, for example, the combine efforts of Dudgeon v UK, legislation followed, the establishing of Age of Consent, Military Service and Immigration. Litigation work at the European Court of Human Rights around age of consent, was advanced by Sutherland v UK in (1996); litigation around military service which spoke to cases that violated Article 8 of the Convention – the right to a private life. The cases were Lustig-Prean and Beckett v UK (1999)[1], Smith and Grady v UK (1999)[2], Perkin and R v UK (2002) and Beck, Copp and Bazeley v UK (2002)[3]. For Darienne Flemington, immigration case,on 4 August 1994, the Home Office finally granted leave to remain in the UK . The couple, lobbied and appealed through the courts, founded the Stonewall Immigration Group – now the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group[4] – many members were deported, put in prison for false documents or false marriages.[5] The group reported that lobbying Labour while still in opposition resulted – after their election – in the “unmarried partner’s concession”. At the outset in 1997, 4 years of prior cohabitation was required to qualify, reducing to 2 years in 1999, with the concession becoming law in 2000. In November 2004, the Civil Partnership Bill was passed. Once this legislation came into use in December 2005, it ensured equal immigration rights for same sex couples. Offering, a strategy shift in L.G.B.T rights advancement.

The second shift that highlights an important policy movement event was the European Directive of 2000, in regards to employment and discrimination. The European Directive (2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000)[6] in regards to employment and discrimination spoke to religions belief, race, gender, disability, age and sexual orientation. A process, that recognised the intersectional issues of race, sexuality, gender, religion and disability, helped to advance the centralisation and prioritisation around policy and advocacy engagement in the political environment in parliament.

The policy frame work of the directive, gave life as well to 2007 legal amendments which made it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation when providing them with goods or services. The 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act added a new criminal offence of ‘incitement to homophobic hatred.’ The amendments spoke to behaviour or materials which stirred up hatred towards gay people. Reproductive rights was never far behind in the advancement of Civil rights issue for L.G.B.T citizens as a 2009 law made it easier for same sex couples to both be recognised as the legal parent of their child. Push Forward 2010 and we have the Equality Act of 2010 which supersedes the regulations and sought to centralise the issues of equality under one law[7]. The Equality Act 2010 was intended to replace over 100 acts of parliament, regulations and judicial clarifications. The framework for equal rights protection in Britain can be traced back to the 1960's and 1970's and the Labour Government of Harold Wilson. Further traces of addressing equality can be found in the Representation of the People Act in 1928 – which finally gave equal voting rights to women. The legislative road began with the first Race Relations Act in 1965 which was updated in 1976 – followed by the Equal Pay Act in 1970-The Sex Discrimination Act in 1975. The efforts at reform followed similar forms of protection introduced in the United States a decade prior. Indeed these three Acts of Parliament (Pay, Sex, Race), plus a few accompanying regulations, were all you needed to know about Equality in the 1970's and for almost two more decades. With Britain becoming a member of the European Community in 1972 and which became the European Union in 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the conservative government opted out of the social Chapter of the Treaty which includes references to anti-discrimination. Nevertheless, the conservative government did enact the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. It was not until Tony Blair's "New Labour" government won the 1997 election that the UK opted in to the social provisions of EU law.

The UK had the European Convention and the 2000 European Directive, Belize has, made used of the Organization of American States General Assemblies, the Inter-American Commission, thematic hearings, the Universal Periodic Review of 2009 and 2013 as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Shadow report processes to amplify political engagement nationally. The results can be seen in the PM Barrow, 2013 independence day speech, the leader of the opposition comments and extended invitations to contribute to the consultations processes for the country national report.

The third shift, in UK L.G.B.T history is that politicians have been coming out the closet in all parties which meant in practice that no party owned the the equality and diversity issued. Of note, Union representations, pointed out that there was an L.G.B.T committee in every major party and that dialogue and engagement does happen across party lines. We don't have out MP's in Belize or in any country among CARICOM member states, we have rumors only. What is interesting is that Belize is at a place where the UK was 30 years ago, where one's private business remain private, even if a person is a public secret. We don't have an L.G.B.T committee to advance political engagement within both parties and we have not successfully engagement in manifesto development between the parties that exists and we have not engage the legislative process in any significant way as yet. What I can say we have done is change the political tone in the country, but not the substance. The sky is the limit in how we push forward to extend legislative protections.

 [1] Lustig-Prean&Beckettv UK: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx#{"appno":["32377/96"]," itemid":["001-58407"]}
[2] Smith & Grady V UK: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-58408#{"itemid":["001-58408"]}
[3] Beck,Copp and Bazeley v UK: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-60697#{"itemid":["001-60697"]}
[4]UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group: http://uklgig.org.uk/
[5] Immigration challenge: https://www.unison.org.uk/upload/sharepoint/On%20line%20Catalogue/22983.pdf
[7] The Equality Act of 2010:http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
[6]  European Directive: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32000L0078:en:HTML

Also see:  

Scotland Act 1998: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/help/61877.aspx
Welsh power:
Northern Ireland:

Physician for Social Responsibility

Geroge Monbiot

Michiko Kakutani