Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Legacy of Section 53 for Belize and the Caribbean Region

April 23rd, 2013



For better of worse, section 53 of the criminal code of Belize “Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person, or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for the years.” has changed the national and regional landscape of advocacy. We can say we were the first in the Caribbean region to file case 668 of 2010. What few knows is that the process started back in 2007, as claimant on the Island of Hispanola, in the country of the Dominican Republic. It was at a meeting on human rights supported by UNDP, but organized by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities that Tracy Robinson of URAP started the engagement of looking for a claimant. There I was surprise to learn that Belize was considered to have the most liberal constitution in the region and that Godfrey Smith was part of the constitutional assessment process that URAP did. Belize of course was not the only choice, Guyana was another option. Working with Tracy Robinson and Arif Bulkan was a pleasure by oovoo in the early days, as we sorted out paper work, documentation, edits of documents, waited for news they found resources, finding a local lawyer to support the filing of the document locally and pegging a date for filing. At the time, I thought I was smart working to advance L.G.B.T declaration and resolutions at the OAS with then partners Global Rights representative, Stefano Fabeni and Marcelo Ferreyra of International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. As an organization we did our first shadow report for the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 and continue to build a base of information and other shadow report efforts for UPR and The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights in 2013. I was the one that pushed the question, when will we filed. Till finally, we filed in 2010.

The history of L.G.B.T activism did not start with UniBAM, inklings of action could be traced back loosely to the Political Reform Commission Report of 2000, where a recommendation was made to add sexual orientation to the constitution. The report read:

 Recommendation 12: Sexual Orientation
The majority of the Commission recommends that section 3 of the Constitution be amended to include entitlement to fundamental rights and freedoms whatever an individual's sexual orientation. 


Inklings of action can be found in the way UNFPA  looked at HIV. One person in particular, Dr. Beers who advocated for the inclusion of men who have sex with men in an OPEC project to address the issue of health and HIV. AAA or Alliance Against AIDS early beginnings or formation was to address men who have sex with men populations that was being impacted by HIV, but unfortunately evolved into a boarder HIV services organization. The policy environment also evolved with language within the National HIV/AIDS Policy referencing not only the men who have sex with men population, but also the principle of non-discrimination and strong human rights language.

The policy can be quoted in the following way:

The Constitution of Belize and International Human Rights Conventions and agreements which have been signed and ratified by the Government shall provide the framework for the formulation of this HIV/AIDS Policy for Belize. This Policy is therefore founded on the following principles:
Non-Discrimination – Each individual has a right to non-discrimination in access to goods, services, or employment, on the basis of their HIV-status or the HIV status of family members.
Equity in access to Goods and Services – Each individual has a right to accurate and timely information and services to protect himself/herself from the further transmission of HIV/AIDS.....
Stigma Reduction – Stigma plays a major role in the spread of HIV. Combating stigma shall be highlighted in the development and implementation of all programs and services aimed at reducing the further transmission of HIV....

The policy recognizes the key is a human rights-oriented policy and legal framework to creating an enabling environment for the reduction of stigma and discrimination against PLWHAs…and other groups. 
 The Government of Belize will:
       develop and implement …information and education programs that are strategically targeted ….at… women …, people with disabilities,…., men who have sex with men, …. in order reduce vulnerabilities…

Over the last 10 years more visible language can be found in the Gender Policy just approved on March 19th, 2013, The Youth Policy approved in 2013 as well as non-binding resolutions at the UN and the OAS.

The Youth Policy, for the first time can be quoted as saying the following in its section of Identity and Equity the following:
 ...refers to both rights-based and developmental concepts related to identity and equity, around the general theme that adolescents and youth should be able to enact the identity of their choosing, without persecution, sanctions, social exclusion  and discrimination. This may include gender identity, ethnic identity, religious identity, cultural identity, or any other....  


We have never seen such visible language in a National Youth Policy document before. The UN Resolutions on Extrajudicial Killings for 2010 and 2012 showed that government would not resist the issue of acknowledging sexual orientation and gender identity. The voting at the UN in 2012 showed that the government was full-filling its mandate at least to address" disparties between citizens," but in a non-binding way. This progressive stance as well is reflected in the following OAS resolutions:
       AG/RES. 2435 -2008

       AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09)

       AG/RES. 2600 (XL-O/10)

       AG/RES. 2653 (XLI-O/11)

      AG/RES. 2721 (XLII-O/12)


GOB have not resisted any OAS resolutions that seeks to condemn discrimination against persons by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity.In fact, resolution 2721 of 2012 spoke to requesting the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to prepare a study on legislation and provisions in force in the OAS member states restricting the human rights of individuals. Something sorely needed in Belize to profile better the issue of hate crime and discrimination.
  
Building on this, was a draft Legal Review commission by the National AIDS Commission authored by Joanne Griffith and Magali Marin in 2003 that called for repeal of section 53. The review was not completed till 2009 with a large consultation at the Biltmore. There, Cannon Flowers agreed on repeal, on the condition that the Sexual Offenses laws be improved along with the participants. Here is the reason why review of the Sexual Offenses Act that updates need to happen so urgently:

1) There does not appear to be an age of consent for minor males.
2) There is no inclusion of men/boys in the rape statutes, regardless of whether it might be a female perpetrator or male perpetrator. (Definition of rape seems to be confined to the definition of penetration of a penis into a vagina. No other orifice. Non-consensual (or consensual) oral sex does not appear to be addressed at all -- unless of course it can be construed to be included in that "unnatural" clause.)
3) There is no inclusion of men/boys as victims of incest.
4) There is no inclusion of men/boys as disabled victims of sexual assault. Specifically men can be convicted of rape if they "carnally know" a female idiot or imbecile, but not vice-versa.
5) There is no inclusion of men/boys in the statutes on prostitution. Specifically procurement of a female prostitute or attempting to force a female to become a prostitute is forbidden.
6) There is no inclusion of men/boys in the statues of defilement by use of drugs or alcohol.
7) Abduction of a female under 18, by force or otherwise is a crime, but it does not address abduction of males.
There is no inclusion of men to divorce because of guilt of rape, sodomy or bestiality, though women can divorce on these grounds.
9) Non-consensual anal sex is only addressed in the divorce laws. (actually the only reference I found to sodomy is that it can be used as grounds for divorce and it doesn't specify if it is consensual or non-consensual.)

My oh my, how things have changed, with the Evangelicals spreading their Christian love with the usual imported messaging of its US partners, of the organization promoting rape of boys etc backfired as new five reported on Brian Sears (see link: http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/73836) and Neal accusations of molesting young boys (see link http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/62329). What we have learnt from the process is that propaganda is the order of the day despite committing an abomination of having a lying tongue.Belize action Scott Stirm, continues to share half-truths with the public. I believe he can be best described  in the blog article toucan view LLC called Jim Jones Koolaid at http://twocanview.com/tag/scott-stirm/ where he was found in agreement with Patricia King talking about Raising the Dead. The fact is not lost that this man is from WACO Texas

As we are accused of having a Foreign Agenda, this quote best summarises the present idea of many on the Belizean left. The person can be quoted as saying,"Let me see if I understand this: an American, a loony toon religiturd from "We Ain't Coming Out" (Waco), Texas, is standing up against a "foreign agenda being forced on Belize" Does anyone else see the irony in his comments? Or worse, his hypocrisy. I would add to this comment, " What is more foreign than  the Evangelical Association? I could argue.." and what about their "Foreign Fundamentalists Agenda?"

Time will tell, if the process is transformative or destructive to UniBAM. Time will tell, if the current debate on section 53 of the criminal code with come to pass and be transformative in  the Belizean legislative process. What we do know is that Belize will never be the same, nor the region and the other 11 countries seeking to amend their laws in the Caribbean. 



 




5 comments:

  1. SUGGESTION: making the font a little larger may help those readers who can't see so well.

    We are rooting for you here over in Jamaica ............ keep us abreast please

    Regards

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  2. To Caleb regarding your statement on the news last night comparing the sin of gluttony to the sin of homosexuality - the comparison does not work. People need to eat to live therefore somehow stopping overweight people from eating would constitute death. Also some cases of being overweight is not due to gluttony. No one on earth has died because of a lack of sexual activity. Many actually, have died because of sexual activity. Removal of the sodomy laws will open a bag of worms that you may not have considered. Men, women, and children have received justice by that law, when violated by predators. Consensual sodomy has never been prosecuted in this country. Because what you do in the privacy of your home is your business. Why should we negate the rights of others to please a few?

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  3. love, you get to believe in the noodles God. you have every right to convince me that I should be chaste. You have a right to individual religious belief, but it is not a collective right to discriminate. So basically, the case is not about children and religious belief, its about preventing the state from entering your home and my home unimpeded. Please stop believe the lies of Wade and Stirm and start think for yourself.

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