Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Belize Christain right lies about TNT Gender Policy

Reposted: May 28th, 2013 

Without fact checking, without the full story Plus TV decided they had a comment. This was the article on TnT gender policy see link..http://www.plustvbelize.com/news/belize-gay-rights-in-cabinet-gender-policy-trinidad-gay-rights-out/  now we hear this update below. Can we say what else will you not misinform the Belizean public about Plus TV?

Brown knocks Gender Minister
Monday, May 27 2013
GENDER activist and president of the Network of NGOs Hazel Brown is disappointed with Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Marlene Coudray over the National Gender Policy (NGP).
“History is being rewritten to include what people want to be included and leave out what we want left out,” Brown charged adding that she was disturbed when she attended the Ministry’s Open House, on May 17, and the Minister declared that the NGP was in front of the Finance and General Purposes (F&GP) committee of Cabinet and this was the furthest the NGP has ever gone in history.

Brown spoke last Wednesday at UWI, St Augustine’s Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) public forum on the Draft National Policy on Gender Equality and Development.

The IGDS was responsible for drafting the 2004 National Gender Policy (NGP), and their aim was to educate the public on the issues surrounding the NGP.

Brown added that on July 29, 2007 the Cabinet minute 1931 declared the document to be made into a Green Paper. She referred to an article in the Government’s archives that said the Cabinet accepted the NGP draft on February 8, 2010. However, this policy was found to be inadequate, and was pulled before it could be adopted.

Brown said in 1990, the Government ratified the United Nation’s Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and Girls (CEDAW). This agreement bound the government to a promise to provide equality and equity for women, and Brown said the NGP was the Government’s way of fulfilling that commitment. But she said the approval of the policy would go nowhere because the F&GP committee was where “you send a policy to die.”

Brown said when she sent an email to Minister of Finance Larry Howai to inquire about the progress of the policy, she reported Howai said the policy was not in font of the F&GP.

Source:http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,178285.html

Friday, May 24, 2013

Community Systems Strengthening Flawed for Global Fund

Reposted May 24th, 2013
 
The Global Fund's Approach to Community Systems Strengthening Is Flawed
 
29 Feb 2012
Editor's note: This article is condensed from a newly-published paper by the same authors entitled "The Global Fund and Community Systems Strengthening: The Wrong Organisation for the Right Job? Or the Right Organisation Doing the Job Wrongly?," which is available on the Aidspan website here.
Community participation, of various sorts, has been at the core of many Global Fund structures and procedures. For example, both the Global Fund Board and country coordinating mechanisms were designed to include civil society representatives. In addition, community-based organisations (CBOs) and individuals affected by the three diseases have always occupied a central role in the delivery of Fund-supported health programmes.
In 2009, the Global Fund took a further step by encouraging all Round 8 funding applicants to incorporate a more strategic and considered approach to what it called "community systems strengthening" (CSS) within their proposed plans and budgets. Much time and effort has subsequently gone into the production of guidance to applicants for incorporating CSS activities, and into the development of indicators for monitoring CSS.
However, the Global Fund is still not getting its approach to CSS right. We have identified three major problems.
The first one has to do with the way CSS is conceived. When the Global Fund first described CSS, supporting the generic systems and infrastructure development of CBOs was a core feature. A guide developed by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership in 2009 also described CSS in general developmental terms. However, since then, the purpose and meaning of CSS has changed. This has caused some confusion, but more importantly, it appears to have progressively narrowed the scope and focus of CSS towards supporting CBOs to improve the uptake and coverage of selected health care services.
Important components of CSS which do not have a direct link to health care services (for example, building social cohesion, promoting gender equality or fighting for human rights and the respect of sexual diversity) are neglected. For communities that suffer from the double burden of disease and social discrimination or disadvantage, this is a concern.
The second problem relates to the way CSS is translated from what is in the proposal to what is actually implemented on the ground. Increasingly, Global Fund proposals are written by teams of skilled consultants who are hired because they know how to write winning proposals. They have learned to include the language of community development. But, once recommended by the Technical Review Panel (TRP) and approved by the Global Fund Board, the proposal becomes the basis for a negotiation between the Global Fund Secretariat and the designated principal recipient (PR). Civil society organisations that are selected as PRs and sub-recipients (SRs) often have very little input in the development of the proposal and may end up being contracted to implement a set of activities which may or may not fit their own culture and history of community development.
Furthermore, local fund agents (LFAs) are playing an increasingly important role in the negotiation of grant agreements, often to the detriment of CSS. LFAs are organisations with variable profiles. Some are specialised in financial audits and others have public health expertise - but all of them work under the restrictive terms of reference of being the Global Fund's "local policeman on patrol." Not surprisingly, therefore, their inputs in the grant negotiation process often focus on strengthening controls and linking budgets directly to service delivery outputs. This tends to further restrict the scope of CSS activities supported by the Global Fund to the delivery of service outputs that can be counted. Activities such as networking, community consultations or inter-generational dialogue have no quantifiable service output, and invariably disappear from the budget.
The third problem is that the Fund's approach to the monitoring and evaluation of CSS performance is flawed due to an over-reliance on quantitative indicators, many of which are also poorly constructed. The over-emphasis on quantifiable indicators frequently results in a performance framework that is neither specific nor valid. It also reinforces the tendency to equate CSS with the narrow aim of supporting CBOs to help deliver disease-based service delivery targets.
For the Global Fund to improve its support of CSS, it needs to: (a) be clearer about what is meant by CSS; (b) draw upon expertise from the broader population of experts in community development and participation; (c) reconsider its approach to performance-based funding and management for CSS; (d) consider how community systems can be strengthened much more in tandem with health systems strengthening; and (e) set up an independent commission of relevant experts to examine how the Global Fund can support CSS more effectively and appropriately in the future, the results of which should feed into the 10-year evaluation of the Global Fund.
Dr Josef Decosas (josef@hera.eu) is a Senior Partner with HERA, an international multidisciplinary team of professionals with expertise in health and development research, programming, evaluation and policy. Dr David McCoy (david.mccoy@aidspan.org) is a public health physician and honorary senior clinical research fellow at University College London. He serves as a consultant to Aidspan and also works part-time in the U.K. National Health Service. 

Source:http://www.aidspan.org/gfo_article/global-funds-approach-community-systems-strengthening-flawed#.UZ-pPbG3r8w.email

Bigots

Reposted: May 24th, 2013

By G. Michael Reid
Saturday, May 18, 2013, 13:25
A bigot is a blinkered, narrow-minded person, usually also very intolerant and unable to see anyone else’s point of view. People can be bigoted about things that have nothing to do with race, for example, religion or sexual orientation. A prime example would be Archie Bunker from the old television sitcom “All in the Family.” ~Wikipedia
Belize is a melting pot of many different races, cultures and lifestyles. We currently exist in a state of what might be considered relative harmony. It was not always that way. I have always felt that the greatest accomplishments of our late leader George Price, was his ability to hold this mangled mess together and steer us from colonialism to our state of “jerry-built” Independence. It could not have been very easy.
As it is, we are very much a polarized nation, deeply divided along religious, philosophical and in particular political lines. We are governed by a Constitution which affirms “that the Nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of GOD…” Considering our attitudes toward others and the types of crimes and gross indiscretions of late, one would be hard-pressed to convince anyone of any such thing.
Belize started out as a settlement of ragtag pirates and a few slaves. They subsequently turned to the harvesting of the rich mahogany and logwood trees that they found growing in the area. They pushed inland as far as the Rio Hondo and established parameters for what would become this “tranquil haven” of “wealth untold”. Of course, from early in our existence, our neighbor to the west has been violating the tenth commandment and “coveting” all that we hold to be ours.
There is a long standing argument as to whether slavery in Belize was any different than it was in the United States.  I am inclined to the position that slavery was slavery in any form or fashion.  What was different was the aftermath of the atrocity; whereas miscegenation was illegal and prohibited in the states, it was widely practiced and accepted here in Belize. As a result, by the time the masters had depleted the forest and were ready to return to their true wives in the mother country, we were left a colony of mixed up and confused mulattos. Some were darker and some were lighter and that subsequently laid the foundation of our most prominent paradigm. While in the U.S. they were fighting for civil rights, we were fighting to see who was better than whom.
Before us of even, were the Mayans, who left a rich legacy and monuments of their storied past. We treated them in pretty much the same way that Vega and Grijalva are now treating the Noh Mul monument; with distain and disrespect. While their descendants are still here, they seem to have as much rights as their “native” relatives to the north. Banished to reservations and now being pushed even further to make way for rosewood harvesting and oil drilling expeditions.
Then came the Garinagu! How we hated them and would not let them within 36 miles of our nest of ungregariousness. We called them Kerobs (or Cherubs if you read the Bible) and looked down on their customs and eating habit. They were “bregging” and always smelled like fish! It took many years but we eventually realized their worth and allowed them to educate our children, play us music and stand on the wall of our security. All of us are indeed now one and haven’t we come a long way baby?
Then came the Mennonites. They were different; acted differently, dressed differently and “did not bade for forty days and forty nights”. We didn’t like them much either, however, we eventually also realized how valuable they were to our economy and in supplying much of the food that we needed to eat. They are also now fully integrated into our society. Hell, there is even one way up as a high ranking minister of government.
Then came the Chinese, “trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents”. At first there was a trickle and then they began to pour. They paid good money for their passports and they wrestled away the fry chicken and then the boledo business. In the beginning, as is usual, we didn’t like them. We robbed them and even killed a couple here and there. Then we ate their chicken and became hooked. They are now thoroughly assimilated into society and a couple is also up in the echelons of politics.
Then the immigrants from our Central American neighbors began arriving by the boatloads and truckloads. Spanish people that snuck in while we weren’t even looking. These “yellow-belly Panyas” ate corn, slept in hammocks and were boisterous when drunk. We did not care much for them, looked down our noses and felt ourselves superior. Then we realized that they also did a lot of farming and worked hard at the jobs that we thought ourselves too good to perform. We did not like it but we eventually had no choice but to accept them. We started leaving and they kept coming until now, we are reduced to “minority” and they elevated to status of “majority”.
Now, here’s the real point! Bigotry is etched deeply into our nature. We almost need it because we have to feel as if we are better than somebody else. At least on the surface, we have done well in accepting or at least tolerating other races and cultures. We have come a long way, no doubt, and now we are living together and it is a beautiful thing to behold. It was a tough and rocky road to this point but we did it and it has done us well. We have much spice in our coalition.
Now here come some idiots who are tugging at the last vestige of our snobbery. We have stopped hating other ethnic groups and now we have no one else to hate and feel better than, than those who call themselves “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (LBGT). No way in hell! If we have to pull out every leaf of the Bible and beat them with it until they surrender, we will not surrender our right to hate. This is our last bastion of superiority and we refuse to let go. If need be, we shall assail the gates of the courthouse and sing sankeys and read scripture ‘til thy kingdom come. They will not win! How dare anyone try to deny us our right to be bigots? We are what we are!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.
Source: http://www.belizetimes.bz/2013/05/18/bigots/

Debate on TnT Gender Policy continues

Reposted May 24th, 2013

Mora: How come the IRO so powerful?
By Kim Boodram

DEPUTY political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Dr Anna Maria Mora, said she is concerned that religious bodies were able to dictate the formation of the National Policy on Gender and Development.

This comes after a declaration last week by Gender Affairs Minister Marlene Coudray that the policy will not address rights for the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community, as per the wishes of some religious groups, including the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) and Inter Religious Organisation (IRO).

“How come the IRO is so powerful,” Mora asked Wednesday during a lunchtime seminar under the theme, “What does equal mean to you”, held by the Institute of Gender and Development Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI) at its St. Augustine campus on Wednesday.

Mora said she will be taking the issue to the COP. Similar expressions came out during the session, with many saying that Trinidad and Tobago had opted to deal with the issue in a way that was not modern or in keeping with the struggle for optimum human rights.

Strong objections to any references to gay rights in the policy, which is still in draft form after more than a decade of conception, were voiced up to last week by several religious groups.

At a recent consultation with Coudray, the IRO, CCSJ, Lawyers for Jesus and a number of other religious bodies said they will march against any attempts to foist on the country rights for persons who identify with LGBT.
Colin Robinson, head of the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), said Coudray has essentially told one group of people that it is “okay” to take the rights of another group.

Robinson said the rights being asked for--the right to equal treatment; to not be harassed and bullied; the right to feel a sense of self-worth--are human rights issues.  Though enshrined in the Constitution, the fact is that the LGBT community, much like the elderly and the disabled, have special needs and these rights must be more explicitly defined in any national policy.  It must be clear how the minister made her decision and how the religious bodies were able to bring this decision to the table, he said. “Is this how we form national policy?” Robinson asked during a telephone interview.


France Least Tolerant Country in Europe


The information which has been monitoring the political and moral attitudes of various countries for more than two decades, shows that countries with more economic freedom have higher degrees of tolerance.
France was the least tolerant country in Western Europe, with 28.8 per cent of the population responding that they would not want a homosexual neighbour. This contrasts with 3.6 per cent of Swedish people, 7.4 per cent of Spaniards and 11.1 per cent of Swiss. 16.8 per cent of British people would not want a homosexual neighbour.
There is a clear divide across the iron curtain, with homophobia much more common in Russia and Ukraine, while Serbia and Moldova were even less tolerant than majority Muslim Indonesia. Georgia, was the third most homophobic country surveyed, with 92.6 per cent of the population unhappy with the idea of a homosexual neighbour.
Muslim countries were among the most homophobic, with 19 out of 20 Jordanians unwilling to live near to homosexuals. Iran was close behind, with 93.2 per cent of the population intolerant. Despite their Catholic heritage, liberal attitudes predominate in Latin America, with Uruguay, Argentina and Guatemala more tolerant than some Western countries. Colombia was an outlier, with 45.9 per cent of the population unwilling to have a homosexual neighbour.
 
A demonstration in Lyon, France, some hours after the French National Assembly adopted a bill legalising same-sex marriages and adoptions for gay couples.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Open letter: Epigentics- Conference on Gender-base Violence and LGBT Rights

Reposted May 23rd, 2013


 An Open Letter from America to Belize
(Based on the UNIBAM Conference on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, 24 July 2012)
By Asa DeMatteo, Ph.D.

When Caleb Orozco of UNIBAM invited me to come to Belize for his conference on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence in Belize, he asked me to talk about epigenetics. His request came after Mr. Louis Wade of Belize spent time online and on Plus TV arguing that homosexuality couldn’t be genetic because homosexuals don’t procreate (and, therefore, must recruit). Any genetic basis for homosexuality would, he said, be doomed to disappear from the human genome. Of course, the argument fails on the simple fact that many homosexuals do in fact reproduce and have throughout history. But there is a more subtle problem with Mr. Wade’s argument. In my online responses to Mr. Wade, I pointed out that your genes aren’t your destiny.
Over the past decade, science has greatly expanded our knowledge of how genes work. What scientists have discovered is that there are genes that are turned on or off by environmental factors, an area of genetic research and findings called epigenetics. Here’s an example that all of us can understand: Every female bee in a hive is genetically identical. The oversized egg-producing queen has the same genetic blueprint as the much smaller sterile worker bees who tend her. So how does she get to be queen while her sisters get to be workers? The critical difference is that she is fed and tended to differently from her sisters, and that environment turns on certain genes and shuts off others such that she becomes very different from the others and stays so for her entire life. And even the behavior of the workers apparently have epigenetic influences, purportedly stimulated by certain chemicals called pheromones that determine their roles within the hive. Some are ladies in waiting for the queen, others are nannies for the larvae, others gather food, and still others guard the hive. All of them have the same genetic blueprint, but are highly different in appearance and behavior as adults. That is how epigenetics works in bees.
So what do bees have to do with human beings? Science has also determined that epigenetics works in humans. Environmental events from the womb through old age change how our genes work. For example, identical twins are exact genetic copies of each other. They are exact copies because they form from a single fertilized egg that divides in two before developing into a fetus. However, although genetically identical, these twins become increasingly different throughout their lives. More importantly, some of those differences get passed down to their children. Some of the genes that get turned on or turned off in one twin, but not the other will stay that way in their children. The altered status of the genes can be permanent. This much we know, however incomplete our present knowledge of human genetics.
And how does epigenetics play a role in the attempt to understand the genesis of homosexuality? Why is it that when one identical twin is homosexual, the other has a 70% chance of also being homosexual? If being gay is in our DNA, shouldn’t that probability be 100%? On the other hand, if being gay were simply a choice or something that grows out of how one is raised, why is the probability so high as 70%, even with twins raised apart? Is being gay nature or nurture? Genetic science is currently investigating the role of epigenetics in homosexuality because the twin concordance is too high to be explained by environmental factors alone. It can’t be simply a choice. But because the twin concordance is not absolute, like eye or hair color, it can not be raw genetic destiny either.
One area of current epigenetic interest concerns an intriguing fact: For families with multiple sons, the probability of any one son being gay increases with each successive son. In other words, the youngest son has the highest probability of being gay and the oldest son the least. This finding is not an absolute rule, but rather a statistically significant trend. How might such a startling but reliable finding come to pass? The area with the most promise is immunology, or the workings of the immune system in mothers.
Our immune system works by searching out organic matter which does not match our genes. Certain cells in the immune system check organic matter in the body to see if it matches our own genetic structure and is thus ‘self’ while it identifies foreign organic matter as ‘not self’. If the material is identified as ‘not self’, these cells stimulate other cells to gather and attack the foreign matter, that is, the body mounts an immune response. This response can be as simple as the red swelling and itch of a mosquito bite, or as massive as toxic shock syndrome, where the immune response can kill. And in other cases, the immune system goes haywire and mistakenly identifies ‘self’ as ‘not self’, causing what are called autoimmune diseases and disorders. Juvenile diabetes is one such disorder, caused by the immune system identifying the insulin producing cells in the pancreas as ‘not self’ and subsequently attacking and destroying them. Other autoimmune disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and lupus.
Another feature of the immune system is that it learns. When the immune system encounters a foreign body, it mounts an immune response, as I have outlined above. But it also ‘remembers’ the foreign proteins such that it can mount a quicker and more effective immune response in future. That’s why once we get mumps as a child, we don’t get it again. Our immune system learns what mumps is, and next time it encounters it, it knocks it out forthwith, destroying the virus before it can take hold. Another outcome of this learning is the growing sensitivity to allergens. Most readers know that for some people, a bee sting can be life-threatening, causing a severe immune response with swelling of the tongue and lining of the respiratory system that threatens breathing. And as they may also know, the response gets increasingly severe with each successive sting, so much so that the entire body can react in a shock response with rapid heartbeat, precipitous drop in blood pressure, and respiratory distress that can quickly kill. That’s how the clever immune system can be our foe as well as our friend.
Science also knows that the uterine environment has a great number of effects on fetal development. If a mother drinks alcohol while pregnant, that alcohol passes through the placenta, epigenetically altering the expression of genes in the developing fetus, and results in developmental abnormalities. If the mother gets rubella in the first trimester of pregnancy, it can pass to the fetus causing devastating alterations in the developmental expression of genes, including deafness, mental retardation, and physical deformities. And the hormonal environment in the mother’s womb has epigenetic effects as well. There is an interplay between the mother and the fetus such that the fetus seems to signal the mother’s hormonal system that it is female with two X chromosomes, stimulating that system to send relatively more estrogen to the uterus during the appropriate developmental stage, or if a male with one X and one Y chromosome, stimulating the system to send relatively more testosterone to the uterus during the same period. If the female XX fetus experiences too much testosterone during the development of the genitalia, the genetic expression of genital development will be altered, resulting in a masculinized female, often with an enlarged clitoris that looks like a small penis. And if the XY genotype fetus experiences too much estrogen in the womb, the male fetus will be feminized, often resulting in improper genital development with the urethra, the uninary opening, placed along the bottom of the penis shaft, a condition called hypospadias, and a partial to complete vagina in the absence of ovaries and fallopian tubes. All these effects are a part of epigenetics.
We can now turn back to that strange correlation between male homosexuality and birth order. When a woman becomes pregnant, the fetus inside her body is a foreign organism that is genetically similar to her, but not identical, having half of her gene structure and half of the father’s. And girls, having the same XX genotype as the mother, are more genetically similar to her than males with their XY genotype. In order for the fetus not to be destroyed by the mother’s immune system, the mother’s body must suppress her immune system, weakening it enough so that it doesn’t mount an immune response against the fetus, male or female. And the mother’s system is kept as separate from the baby’s system by the placenta for just the same reason. The working hypothesis is that the mother’s weak immune attack on the genetically dissimilar male fetus—something we know about—becomes increasingly severe with each male pregnancy, just like the increasingly severe immune response to successive bee stings. Something in that immune response alters genes epigenetically such that the genetic expression of male sexuality is altered for life.
No one should assume, based on the description above, that science now understands the source of homosexuality and the role that epigenetics plays in the development of alternative sexual response. I have only presented where science is headed. It hasn’t reached the full explanation as of yet. The plain fact is science doesn’t yet know the source of homosexuality. But so far, it looks like a very complicated combination of both nature, as represented by the genome, and nurture, as represented by the intrauterine environment. The science is very clear, however, that it is not a developmental feature that someone chooses, or that is subject to cognitive intervention like teaching, therapy, or wishing otherwise. Anyone who claims otherwise isn’t talking about science.
I have nothing more to say about epigenetics here. For those science geeks like me who want a good understanding of epigenetics, there is a great introductory book, “The Epigenetics Revolution” by Dr. Nessa Carey, published this year. I have recommended the book to Mr. Louis Wade so that he can avoid the mistakes he has so recently made when formulating his invalid argument for the impossibility of a genetic basis for homosexuality.
I have a purpose here quite different from reviewing epigenetics or proposing a biological basis for homosexuality. I prefer to talk about Belize and about all Belizeans who would like to see a more just and equal place for LGBT people in the Jewel.
Each reader, gay or straight, knows in his or her bones that sexual attraction is a deep, abiding, and central feature of sexual identity. Our sexual nature is not something we choose; it is who we are. The argument of choice is not only wrong, it is irrelevant, and people who think otherwise simply don’t understand. The reason Mr. Wade and others leading Belize Action want homosexuality to be a choice is that then they can hold homosexuals responsible for what they believe to be immoral and sinful behavior. As Mr. Wade says, we know of ex-gays, ex-drunks, ex-adulterers, but no ex-black people or ex-females, so gays, drunks, and adulterers do not deserve legal protections. Of course, people making this argument never mention that there are also, ex-Christians, and ex-people-of-faith of all sorts. Religion is also a choice; however, that fact is never used to argue that religious behavior deserves no legal protections. And gay advocates often fall into the trap of shouting back at these folks that it isn’t a choice, gays can’t help it, and so LGBT people should have the same civil rights protections as racial minorities and females who have experienced discrimination.
I reject both of these arguments, and I submit that the LGBT community should as well. Consider a possible world in which someone could choose to be a male or a female, or to be a minority. Would racial or gender discrimination then be acceptable in that world? I hope no one would assert such reasoning. Civil rights don’t exist because people can’t choose who they are. Civil rights exist because citizens decide that they want a just and decent society that embraces all of its members. Human rights exist because we, as members of one great human family, have decided to enshrine in our overarching laws the golden rule: treat one another as you, yourself, would want to be treated. Or in the words of Jesus in John 13:34-35 KJV: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Choice has nothing to do with deserving basic civil and human rights.
Right now LGBT people do not have equal rights in Belize. One of the sexual behaviors engaged in by some, but certainly not all, gay men is outlawed in Belize by Section 53 of the Criminal Code, with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment. But no LGBT person has ever been prosecuted for Section 53, people have argued. Think about that, about what people are really saying: Yes, you are a law-breaker and an immoral, sinful person, despite any good that you do for your community and society in Belize, but we won’t prosecute you if you just shut-up and don’t rock our boat. I would hope that the LGBT community in Belize would say, as Caleb Orozco has said with his challenge to Section 53 on constitutional grounds, “Unacceptable.” I would hope each would say, “I am a member of this society. I pay my taxes. I participate in the social contract. And I demand full equality and dignity for my citizenship and my humanity. I demand to be treated like everyone else.” I would hope that each LGBT Belizean could know, bone deep, these things: They have a right to be here. They have a right to live. They have a right to a full and happy life. They have a right to love. And they have a right to justice, equality, and dignity, guaranteed by the Constitution of Belize of 1981.
Some readers may consider me a fuzzy-thinking, over-educated, ivory-tower intellectual from San Francisco who can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be gay in Belize. And to a certain extent, they would be right. The Belize experience is unique in many ways. On the other hand, I’m an old man who has been in this fight for justice for the past 48 years. I grew up in the mountains of California, 8½ miles outside of a small, redneck town of 3000 people. If one could take a small community and its rural surroundings from Belize and plant it in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, it would be very much like the situation in which I grew up. When I was 17 years old, I went to San Francisco to find my tribe. But the San Francisco of 1964 was very different from the San Francisco of today. It was already a gay Mecca, as it had become when gay sailors and soldiers and marines, shipped off from there to fight in the Pacific in World War II, returned to San Francisco to gather with their tribe. But the cops called you faggot (the American equivalent of batty-man) or swish or queer or other things I would be reluctant to put in print, just for walking down the street in a gay area. They arrested gays if they held hands in a bar, or even just touched another’s shoulder. They arrested effeminate gay men for soliciting if they cross-dressed in public. And handsome young plainclothes cops would flirt with gay men, trying to get them to suggest a sexual liaison, for just the suggestion of which he would then be arrested. And the arrest was not the end of it. Their names were published in the newspaper, leading to people losing their jobs and careers, their social standing, and sometimes their families and children. People could attack, beat up, even kill gay people without consequence. In 1978, our first gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, was assassinated by another supervisor, a straight, devout Catholic ex-policeman who climbed into City Hall through a window to avoid the metal detector because he was carrying a loaded pistol. He went into the office of Mayor George Moscone, who was a friend and supporter of Harvey Milk, and shot him dead. Then he reloaded his gun and went to Milk’s office and put ten shots into his head. Later he said that he just felt that San Francisco was changing from how it was when he grew up, and was suffering a moral decay. Gay people would be the downfall of our beautiful gem of San Francisco. When I hear these same claims made in Belize media, I get a disturbing sense of deja vu. White was convicted not of cold-blooded murder, but of manslaughter, for which he served seven years. When the decision was announced, thousands of San Franciscans, gay and straight, joined a spontaneous march to city hall to protest, shouting “He got away with murder.” Sadly, the originally peaceful protest devolved into a riot, with all of the ground floor windows in city hall being broken and several police cars being burned. Later that night a phalanx of uniformed police swarmed the largest gay neighborhood and started a riot of their own, breaking all the shop windows, circling pedestrians and beating them with truncheons, and shouting that the fags were getting what they deserved. That killing, the unjust decision, and the subsequent riots changed the city irrevocably. The majority straight community, religious or not, came to the conclusion that this was not the sort of city they wanted to live in, that they wanted to have a city where no one—not gay, not straight, not religious, not irreligious, not police, not civilian—had to fear hatred, inflammatory behavior, and violence. The San Francisco that Supervisor Dan White returned to after seven years had undergone a sea change, and a hateful person like Dan White no longer had a place there. A couple of years after his release from prison, he killed himself.
Now LGBT people participate fully in the life of my city. They are in all the professions, in every corner of the city, young and old, and it has now become quite socially unacceptable to be homophobic, though not illegal. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who continue to consider homosexuality a sin and a violation of morality. The most populous religion is Christianity, and the most populous denomination is Catholic. Surely everyone knows how the Pope feels about homosexuals. But even the Catholic diocese of San Francisco has committed itself to offering pastoral care and support to those it considers sinful and straying from the way of Christ, welcoming them into their churches. Yes, San Francisco is largely mainstream Christian, but there are also several synagogues, including two gay synagogues, a Metropolitan Community Church, which is a gay-affirming Christian sect, several Buddhist Temples, a Sikh community, a spiritualism center, a large Zen Center, Chinese ancestor worship, several Mosques, Baha’is, a few covens of Wicca witches, and even a Church of Satan, though that last is pretty much now defunct, which is probably a good thing since its sole reason for existing was to provoke Christians. They don’t fight with each other, though each thinks the other is utterly wrong and misled. Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians can and do preach against homosexuality. Almost everyday there are evangelicals and charismatic fundamentalists carrying signs in the tourist areas warning against the dangers of homosexuality. And there are gay people who shout back at them and carry their own signs and bumper stickers. But those street preachers are almost always from out of town, and they tend actually to embarrass the home Christian community. With all of this activity, we all live together in our big hodge-podge of a city, free to follow our own star, to live as we see fit as long as we don’t, whether pro-gay or anti-gay, harm each other. Being gay in San Francisco is frankly no longer a relevant public issue. How to pay your rent, which bus or train to take, whether your street gets repaired—those are the pressing issues for the 800,000 residents of San Francisco, more than twice the number of Belizeans, living together in 49 square miles, but one in dignity and rights. I have watched the change, step-by-step, slowly but surely, of the old San Francisco to that of today. I can tell you that contrary to the propaganda that the conservative right in the U.S. spews about San Francisco as a new Sodom and Gomorrah, on the brink of disaster, it is in reality a model city for the world, our gem, a city of marvelously diverse cultures, religions, sexual orientations, ages, races, and national origins where people actually have learned to get along and treat each other with kindness, equality, dignity, and respect. That’s why people from all over the world want to live there. We are proud of our San Francisco values; they were hard-learned and hard-fought. The only real problem is that so many people want to live there that the demand for living space raises the cost of living to dizzying heights. I tell my visitors that owning a house in San Francisco is no more expensive than a moderate cocaine addiction.
The L.G.B.T community in Belize is only at the beginning of their struggle, but I see the same energy and determination I saw back in 1964. I hope with all my heart that their struggle does not have to wind up in the violence that our gem had to experience before the straight and gay communities learned their lesson, that Belize Action and the L.G.B.T community both see that their error is not in their beliefs and values, but in their rancor and demeaning attitude towards those who disagree with them. At the same time, I pray that L.G.B.T Belizeans do not falter, do not give up—that they talk to one another, help one another, and never relent in their demand for equality and justice. I believe in my heart that that happy state will come, and sooner rather than later, because the world is coming to the conclusion that L.G.B.T discrimination is unacceptable. We must all remember what Gandhi teaches us: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. The L.G.B.T opponents in Belize have certainly stopped ignoring the L.G.B.T community, and they aren’t laughing at them as much. But they are fighting with everything they’ve got. My message to Belize is this: Don’t lose heart. Next, everybody wins.

Source:http://asadematteo.tumblr.com/

Beyond binary definitions of Gender: The 3rd Gender in Africa

Reposted 23rd, May, 2013

Beyond binary definitions of gender: Acknowledging the third gender in Africa
Written by Manase Chiweshe Thursday, 16 September 2010 07:46


Persistent and unmistakable ‘third’ or alternative gender subcultures have always existed in one form or another.(2) There are examples from across the world, such as the ‘mahu’ and ‘aikane’ of Polynesia, the ‘berdache’ of Native American tribes, the ‘sekhet’ of prehistoric Egypt, the ‘eunouchos’ of ancient Greece and Rome, the ‘saris’ of the Israelites and the ‘mu’omin’ or ‘trusted men’ of the Syrians. There were traditional third-gender roles in African aboriginal tribes such as the Mbo people of Zaire and amongst the palace and harem guards of the Arabs and Chinese. Don’t forget the cross-dressing entertainers of Manila and Bangkok and the ‘hijra’ and ‘jogappa’ dancers and temple priests of North and South India.
In our own modern times we have gay and transgendered communities across the world, but debates about gender in Africa are couched in the Western gender binary which separates the two sexes as two genders and excludes the possibility of other genders. In traditional African societies, biology was not the ultimate determining factor gender norms. This CAI brief assesses how African societies historically created gender norms beyond the binary limitations of Western conceptualisations. Through acknowledgement of the existence of third genders throughout history, we can begin to understand how the Western construction of two genders ostracises and bestialises individuals who do not fit into its binary classification, and how it can be reconstituted to create a society free of such discrimination.

A third gender?

Medical and biological understandings of sexual development see each child born as either male or female. Some people are born with a Disorder of Sex Development (DSD), however, such as a gonadal dysgenesis, or ‘ambiguous genitalia’ (in the past referred to hermaphrodites) or chromosome disorders (such as Klinefelters Syndrome) and may physically represent both ‘normal’ sexes.(3) Notwithstanding these biological facts, gender remains a social construct built on cultural, religious, political and economic beliefs regarding sexually acceptable identities and behaviour. In many African societies, the binary perception of gender has become a solidified norm which leaves very little room for interrogation of the concept’s relevance and applicability to Africans.(4)  Western binary dichotomies of gender are not adequate to understand the everyday lived realities on the continent.
Biology is not the only determinant of gender across African societies, yet the tendency to biologise the sex differences based on vision (from European intellectual history) has been acceptable for a long time. This emphasis on appearance and visible markers of difference reflects the entire Western episteme’s foundation of categories and hierarchies, based on visual modes and binary distinctions such as male and female; white and black; homosexual and heterosexual.(5) Much Western thinking from the Enlightenment onwards has been constructed in terms of dichotomies and hierarchised binaries, where one is not only separate/different but also above/better than the other.(6)  In Africa we find various forms of a third gender which is neither male nor female, though their existence is often denied in the present context. They fall somewhere in between the two, could be referred to as the third gender (or ‘intermediate gender’) and (arguably) own distinctive gender identities.

The third gender in Africa

Most traditional African societies had distinct gender roles which were socially defined. In these societies, the third gender occupied a culturally well defined social space. For example, historically inscribed pottery shards discovered in Egypt, dating from the Middle Kingdom (2000-1800 BCE), contained a listing of three genders of humanity: males, eunuchs, and females. The Egyptian story of creation’s archetypal beings (gods) were both male and female. The original god’s name is Atum. Through asexual reproduction, Atum divided itself and created two other beings, Shu and Tefnut. These two in turn produced another pair, Geb and Nut. Finally, Geb and Nut, representing the earth and the sky, combined and produced the two pairs respectively called Isis and Osiris, and Seth and Nephthys. Isis represents the reproductive female, Osiris the reproductive male, Seth represents the non-reproductive eunuch, and Nephthys the unmarried virgin.(7) There is great diversity in the social roles that non-masculine males and non-feminine females play, including different homosexualities and mixed-gender shaman roles. Historically, the eunuch males in the Dahomey court (lagredis) and Mossi court (sorones) belonged to one category of alternative gender identity.(8)
Documented cases of third gender identities in African history abound. In Swahili culture, for example, there are male transvestites known as mashoga. These males act as drummers and musicians at women's festivals.(9) The mashoga were often associated with homosexuality. They were viewed as neither men nor women, but occupy their own defined social space which is accepted by their society. Among the Ovimbunde and the Tswana, woman-woman sexual behaviour was prevalent. Some women took on male roles and became ‘social men’ who had women under them. Robert Brain (10) provides a similar example from Cameroon where a woman befriended the sister of a Bangwa chief, a princess. Through this arrangement they became husband and wife, but the woman procreated with men. The "androgynous princess" lived with her wife and the wife's daughter, who addressed the princess as 'father.’(11) 
Among the Azande people, adult males paid the families of boy ‘wives,’ just as they paid for female brides.(12) The two slept together at night, "the husband satisfying his desires between the boy's thighs and when the boy grew up he joined the army and took a boy-wife in his turn. It was the duty of the husband to give his boy-wife a spear and a shield when he became a warrior and then took a new boy-wife.”(13) Some men also had women as wives, but they took their boy-wives to war. If another man had relations with one’s boy-wife, one could sue the interloper in court for adultery.(14) Amongst the Maale of southern Ethiopia, men could choose to ‘cross over’ to feminine roles. These biological males then dressed as women, performed female tasks, cared for their own houses and had sexual relations with men. Among the Maale they were called the ashtime. These men would explain this as: "The Divinity created me wobo, crooked, if I had been a man, I could have taken a wife and begotten children. If I had been a woman, I could have married and borne children. But I am wobo; I can do neither."(15) This culture provided space for a clearly distinct third gender.

‘Silence’ on the third gender in Africa

There is a distinct silence in Africa about the existence and rights of the third gender. The African Union (AU) ratification on Gender Equality describes and therefore recognises only two genders in Africa.(16) These are male and female. This problem is apparent across the African continent where the ‘cutting and pasting’ of Western views of fixed gender categories re-occurs. Gender on the African continent should, however, be a much more fluid concept than simple dichotomies. The Western male/female dichotomy pathologises people who do no fit into its limited categories. The idea of rights for a third gender are viewed as strange and rejected. Today, most societies in Africa are organised according to this seemingly fixed binary of the two accepted genders without recognition or acceptance of the different categories of gender that really existent on the continent.
People are forced to choose between the two poles of the gender binary. The shameful manner in which Caster Semenya was treated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and South African athletic authorities was outrageous and scarred Semenya for life. The debate about which sex she belonged to raged on while her life was unfairly scrutinised in public and various forms of violence were performed on her body to examine her gender ‘problem.’ She was pathologised for not fitting into the ‘normalised’ binary of female/male. There are many examples of discrimination against and ‘silencing’ of third gender identities across Africa, as is evident from the extreme legislation against homosexuals in various countries, including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Constitutions, laws, institutions and policies are all based on the belief in two sexes and two corresponding genders. Those who do not fit into these categories are not recognised as lawful citizens, which leaves them vulnerable to a variety of discriminative acts. On personal documents such as passports and identity cards, people are forced identify as one of the two sexes. In school science curriculums only two genders are taught. All sporting activities are organised along the two gender binary poles and the socialisation of children follows this distinction without question.
People who are viewed as queer or different are stigmatised and ostracised. Christian denominations in Zimbabwe demonise people who seem to be of a third gender (or, in their view, of no gender at all). These ‘strange’ people are often said to be possessed by the devil. Numerous news reports and studies document vicious attacks on black lesbians. In South Africa, many lesbians have been raped (and gang-raped), stabbed and even killed by heterosexual men who went out to ‘teach the lesbian a lesson’ and to ‘cure’ her from lesbianism.(17) In Uganda there are anecdotal reports of violent beatings of people who occupy the third gender.(18)

Concluding remarks

Debates for the recognition of a third gender’s rights are based on the fact of their existence since pre-colonial times. The tendency to universalise and essentialise Western conceptions has caused millions of African people pain. ‘Copying and pasting’ Western concepts to explain African realities have led to labelling and violence. Africans need to define this social phenomenon on their own terms. Gender identities in many parts of Africa were once fluid and inclusive societies valued. Legal recognition and protection of the rights of people of all and any gender is a necessary first step in fighting discrimination. Gender equality campaigns have for a long time concentrated on women’s rights, but we need to ensure that the voices of other genders are also heard, namely those of the lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual (LGBT) community.
NOTES:
(1) Contact Manase Chiweshe through Consultancy Africa Intelligence's Gender Issues Unit ( gender.issues@consultancyafrica.com).
(2) Excluding Gays and Lesbians from Vedic Culture, www.chakra.org.
(3) 'Fact Sheet: What is Intersex?' CBC Documentaries, www.cbc.ca
(4) Bakare Yussuf, B.2002. “’Yoruba’s don’t do gender:’ A critical review of  Oyeronke Oyewumi’s ‘The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses.’” Paper presented at CODESRIA conference, April.
(5)Oyewumi, O.1997. The invention of women: Making an African sense of Western gender discourse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
(6) Arnfred, S. 2006: “Re-thinking sexualities in Africa: Introduction.” in Rethinking Sexualities in Africa. S. Amfred. (ed.) Stockholm: Alpha Print.
(7) ‘Egyptian Third Gender’, http://www.gendertree.com.
(8) ‘Gender identity development’, http://family.jrank.org.
(9) ‘Third gender in Africa’, http://www.glbtq.com.
(10) ‘Sexual and gender minorities in a non-European world’, http://www.colorq.org.
(11) Ibid.
(12) Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1970. "Sexual inversion among the Azande." in American Anthropologist 72: 1428-34.
(13) Ibid.
(14) ‘Third gender in Africa’, http://www.glbtq.com.
(15) Donham, D.L. 1990. History, power, ideology: Central issues in Marxism and anthropology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
(16) Gender Equality in Africa, www.arcuk.org.
(17) See http://www.telegraph.co.uk.
(18) See http://www.nytimes.com.

source:http://www.consultancyafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=544%3Abeyond-binary-definitions-of-gender-acknowledging-the-third-gender-in-africa&catid=59%3Agender-issues-discussion-papers&Itemid=267

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Jamaica, Trinidad and St. Lucia Intersects, Belize LGBT movement building

Posted May 22nd, 2013



I can't say that I am surprise that Jamaica's Christian Right group Jamaican Coalition for Healthy Living sought to take PR advantage ( details http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Belize-case-said-being-used-to-push-gay-agenda-in-Caribbean) of the  coverage to section 53 calling the case,""part of a larger effort by the homosexual lobby to get buggery laws repealed in the Caribbean and push that lifestyle on the public." Lawyer, Lisa Shoman took a swipe and sent them a response to their PR effort that was published at http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/results/Resist-the-fear-mongering-cries-of-a-coming-Caribbean-Sodom-and-Gomorrah_14310289

While her response is classic, it seems regional movement building is going both ways for the christian right and the left. With attempts of the right seeking to unite advocates under one documentary and cases being in Belize, Jamaica and Guyana at about the same time. More importantly, the Christian right says we are pushing a foreign agenda, but what is more foreign than the origins of our churches being London, the US with the Evangelicals and Rome. I also must add that this is the pot calling the kettle black. May I point out  the Cultural Imperialism: The Sexual Rights Agenda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INKAv4Y-lW4 .This documentary alone can be argued to be pushing a Foreign Fundmentalist agenda on a public that is made up of non-denominational persons, Muslim, Bahai's Atheists, Buddhists, among others who do not share their thinking. The accusation of "pushing that lifestyle"  is the pot calling the kettle black as Shirley Richards and Sarah Flood Beauburn ( see news covering founding CARIFAM at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkfNCZf0jzA) of St. Lucia, Caribean Centre for Family and Human Rights have sought to push theocratic base policies without regard for the diversity in the region and the existence of fundamental rights and freedoms across the region. Ms. Beaubrun  Carribean Centre for Family and Human Rights on her website, says, not surprisingly, the following:


"CARIFAM recognizes the fundamental and intrinsic dignity of all people whatever their orientation. We recognize that for reasons not yet fully explained by science, persons may experience attraction to members of their own sex.  Overcoming these attractions can be a very painful challenge requiring the support, understanding and compassion of others.  For this reason we distinguish between those who have a homosexual tendency and those who promote homosexuality.  Our opposition to legalizing buggery (homosexual acts) is not an opposition to gay people but a recognition that marriage as between one man and one woman is for the common good – in the best interests of society" and then goes on to speak about 10 reasons why buggery should not e decriminalised see link for details http://carifam.com/resources/family

 I mentioned this organization, because one of its articles was posted in one of Belize's district base newspapers called "The STAR". They may have not been following, however, Ex gay leader John Paulk, Chair of Exodus International apologies for  saying religion will cure homosexuality. He can be quoted as saying,"‘Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people’. Folks in the Caribbean, including our Louis Wade and Scott Stirm believes in reparative therapy. Someone needs to send them the memo. More importantly CARIFAM seem to have not followed the changed position of Exodus International Chairman John Paulk see link for full story http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/%E2%80%98ex-gay%E2%80%99-leader-says-sorry-harm-caused-he%E2%80%99s-still-gay250413 . Need I say more.

The Section 53 case in Belize, intersecting with Jamaica and St. Lucia is that we have known for some time  there is a context. We have known for some time that Shirley Richards of Jamaica is a contact for Advocate International. This is important as she has had a history through Lawyers Christian Fellowship and collaboration with Dr. West and Dr. Doreen Brady-West to undermine women's health. Jamaica can be said to have its own external impact of American groups influencing or operating in that country. A meeting held in Jamaica in 2010 highlighted how American groups have sought to push the American Christian right  agenda. We know, for example that a meeting was held between November 5-7, 2010 with 50 lawyers from the Caribbean region whose agenda was to speak about the “Truth” of Human Rights from Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia, Guyana, Jamaica and other English speaking territories that was hosted by Advocates Caribbean in association with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship of Jamaica at Knutsford Courts Hotel. Among the international speakers were Pierro Tozzi, senior counsel for Global Alliance Defense fund; Justice, Alice Soo Hon, Judge of the Court of Appeals for Trinidad and Tobago and attorney at law Carla Soverall of Trinidad and Tobago who spoke on 'The Truth Behind Discrimination Law: The Constitution and Equal Opportunity Legislation'. Local Jamaican speakers spoke of The Truth Behind Abortion', with presenters Hyacinth Griffith, Jamaican attorney-at-law etc. So the discussion in Belize is not knew, in fact, there has been a coordinate effort to erode the fundamental rights and freedoms of L.G.B.T citizens across the Caribbean region  using legitimate spaces like the law and parliament. The effort has such value that a meeting was followed with plans for a 2012 meeting held on 21-23 September in Barbados with the theme ‘Sanctity of Life that was co-hosted by the AI Global Resource Team for the Sanctity of Life, headed by Justice Alice Soo Hon from Trinidad & Tobago. 
This is important for its a proactive attempt to block rights advancement in the region. Shirley Richards point of contact for Advocate International, helps to extend its work in a collaborative way, with Legal Fellowship, Alliance Defense Fund, World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Partnership and Peacemaker Ministries among others. 
So why is this important to mentioned, well, clearly Shirley Richards and her group is tracking our work in Belize, but we also do the same. Pierro Tozzi, for example, of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute showed up in Belize in 2010 and spokes about " The True Human Rights," with current wirmirs Stirm and Wade. He then, showed up at a University of the West Indies, presentation for Human Rights Day  in 2011 in Jamaica. Fellow activists Maurice Tomlinson reported:
  
…Among the persons who sacrificed an entire Saturday to be in attendance at this event (which ran from 8:30 a.m. to well after its stated end of 2:30) were two sitting judges of Jamaica’s Supreme Court, the country's Attorney General (who brought greetings on behalf of the Justice Minister), the Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission (which regulates content distributed via the electronic media), Jamaica's Chief Parliamentary Counsel (who is responsible for drafting the country’s laws), the Legal Counsel to all Parliamentarians, the Director of the Norman Law School Legal Aid Clinic (which is responsible for training all lawyers in Jamaica) and the Executive Director of the Airports Authority of Jamaica. Special mention was made of the presence of a Jamaican couple now residing in Britain who were denied the right to foster children there because they objected to homosexuality.   
The stated aims of the symposium were to:
1) Re-examine the role of law in society;
2) Increase public awareness of the potential danger that exists if human rights are freed from their traditional moral foundations;
3) Examine the subversive effect of the “fallacies” of popular human rights rhetoric on the democracy and

sovereignty of nations; and
4) Examine major human rights treaties.
During the nearly 7-hour symposium, the presenters extolled the virtues of Dominionism—the belief that countries must be governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law—and cautioned (actually, more like threatened) Jamaican Christians that if they don't organize a counter-offensive against the militant gay agenda sweeping the world, their beloved country will be overrun by aberrant ideas “hell bent” on destroying marriage, children, and, of course, Christianity.... Not only were they successful, as they constantly trumpet, in ensuring human rights for gays were not recognized in the constitution, they were able to get the country’s Attorney General to publicly declare at this forum that he has no intention of abiding by the Constitutional requirement to interpret human rights according to standards found in other free and democratic societies….. Source: http://www.aidsfreeworld.org/Publications-Multimedia/Countdown-to-Tolerance/2011/December/Christian-fundamentalists-homophobia-on-display.aspx

When we look at the TnT and what the Minister of Gender Policy said in Trinidad and Tobago  see link for details http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-05-18/coudray-gay-rights-out-proposed-gender-policy.The point is made in the story in the following way, "God still reigns supreme in T&T, according to the Constitution, and gay rights will not be a part of the Government’s draft national policy on gender and development." However, Belize launched its Gender Policy on May 16th, 2013, in the most progressive and strongest language ever that included the word sexual orientation among other language reference. In my mind, making it a regional leader on L.G.B.T rights in the region.

With PlusTV recent cries about the passed Belizean gender policy, we are seeing how one country action feeds the advocacy, media communication and fundamental rights and freedoms advancement across the region. Here is Plustv full story http://www.plustvbelize.com/news/belize-gay-rights-in-cabinet-gender-policy-trinidad-gay-rights-out/ and here is what a channel 5 news interview got a lawyer who works for the other side to say,http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/85720 inviting a coordinated attack on an policy where the document recognizes respect for diversity as a principle.

So now, the pressure is on to coordinate communication, advocacy, regional action to drive back the christian right in the region. The pressure is on for larger countries in the region to be more efficient in their approach to regionalism. How ideology, strategy, resources and vision clash to make things happen or go lull will be a telling sign of how far we get by natural organic means or brute force and necessity. One I do know, it did not work for the 40 years of battle down in Europe, Latin America and US. It will not work for the region, for they are using the same old tactics that have already proven to fail.