The BLACK March: LGBT Prospective

7th March, 2016

The BLACK march or Be Loving And Cease Killing was organized at NAPA on March 17th, 2016 in Belize City. For the first time, we had, Tikkun Olam, a sex worker advocacy organization, along with three LGBT led community-base groups and organizations, Our Circle, EYBM, BYEC & UniBAM made is presence felt, as all recognize that crime is about citizenry that unites us  in our concern about personal security.  Security concerns that shows up data in crime from 2000-2015. For example, data for murder was 1553 persons,cumulatively over 5 years while there were 672 rapes and 7, 541 robberies as well.  Why is this important? The data reveal that violence is a loose social tool that forces people into a state of alert or psychological guard.




From a constitutional prospective section 3(a) offers protections for life, liberty, security of the person, and the protection of the law. 3(c)  offers us protection for his family life, his personal privacy, the privacy of his home and other property and recognition of his human dignity.

What we discovered in practice is a victim of rape will get state intervention and rights defense through a medical exam & making a police report etc in making a case, but carry the burden of responsibility to deal with the social stigma attached to being a victim of sexual violence. Such experience can be called horizontal violence that can be covert or overt in nature. It is perpetuated by whispers, gossiping, name-calling, back-stabbing by community, friends and family, rendering the person to question their ability to assert their concerns in section 3(a) of the constitution. Horizontal violence can be argued to be an effective social mechanism to protect male social entitlement to a woman's body, but more importantly act as a weapon to erode the  human dignity of that person. When we add the LGBT component to it, 7 cases of rape or sexual assault of received reports between 1997-2015, the issue becomes even more complicated.  Adding biblical teachings about homosexuality that perpetuate social prejudice, legal exclusion that does not acknowledge the existence of sexual identity in a positive way, the social & gender politics that men are not suppose to not be victims of rape or sexual assault, and the environment becomes layered with informal and formal processes that discourages men from reporting violence.

In an article written by the Guardian of London, in 2011 called "The Rape of Men: The darkest Secret of War, the journalist wrote,"His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And he wasn't the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him."  Data collected by Lara Stemple, of the University of California's Health and Human Rights Law Project, study revealed that incidents of male sexual violence occurs as a weapon in wartime or political aggression in countries such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. 21% of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torture treatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture. A study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80% of men reported having been raped.

So what does this have to do with Belize, structurally, we have a domestic violence unit, but there is no Unit in the Police Department on sexual violence.  The Amandala coverage of the Chief Justice speech in 2015 revealed, "In 2013, the conviction rate was pegged at 39 percent in the system. This figure, Benjamin said, was “sullied with only an 8 percent conviction rate for murders,” adding discussions of LGBT murder in Belize from 1997-2015, 32 in all for various reasons, high lights an additional structural problem. The state does not acknowledge a crime can be bias-motivated, as such,state system are under no legal obligation to report murder in its police report with any additional characteristic. Furthermore, the Ombudsman office powers in practice are limited to public authorities. It does does not investigate discriminatory practices, but mal-administration. The result is that justice is accessible to if you have the money, time or support. For many LGBT persons, highlighting their sexuality as part of a case is troublesome in Oscar Selgado vs Attorney General, Minister of Defense & Security Service Commission. The justice pointed out in case action 418 of 2003,"...Captain Selgado might have put up a formidable sex discrimination case under S: 16 of the Constitution of Belize, even a constitutional motion case, had he owned up to homosexuality." 

The BLACK march, then, became a symbol of opportunity and a short term public relations investment, masking the substantive needs to strengthen our citizens concerns about inadequate accessible redress mechanisms. The lack of  state system response to legal marginalisation of its LGBT citizens has helped to amplify the social effects of state systems policing the bodies of  its citizens. The policing of female bodies, in particular helps to undermine their economic options in employment, where two-thirds remain outside of the labour force. When state system inadequate investments in promoting jobs for its citizens take place, it must be noted, that women who voluntarily seek sex work are arbitrarily penalized for their work ethic, use of resources earned from sex work by banks, custody rights of children and along with their children in school. The result, is that economic independence is de-legitimatised  or discouraged in a way that forces these women to carry the burden alone in giving life to their aspirations.The L.G.B.T socio-economic concerns are inter-related as well, as family, job security, access to education and custody issues are equally marginalized or excluded by current laws that do not acknowledge the current  dignity and economic safety-net concerns of couples and individuals alike.

In Be Loving And Cease Killing, we would hope that the slogan is about hearts and minds, about human capacity to find peace, understanding and stability in a exclusionary legal environment. We united in the basic premise of the BLACK March, we hope, that its core value of Love can be reciprocated. The proof, will be in the practice and social actions that are yet to come.


Popular posts from this blog

UniBAM at UN: It was about LGBT Politics, Humanity and Defiance

The Perfect, Imperfect Evolution of The Equal Rights Coalition as a mechanism

The E.R.C: Small economies, L.G.B.T.I Economic Empowerment & Civil Rights Framework