Belize abstains from OAS Gender Policy

ElringtonThe Solicitor General of Belize has advised that Belize should abstain from voting on a Convention tabled at the Organization of American States’ General Assembly currently under way in Antigua, Guatemala, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington informed the Belizean media on Thursday, June 6. 

It’s essentially a human rights document, the Inter-American Convention against all forms ofdDiscrimination and intolerance.

But while it initially attacks racial discrimination, in defending individual freedoms regardless of “genderor or  age,” we quickly get to “sexual orientation; language; religion; political or other opinion; social origin; economic statu and ; migrant, refugee.”

Speaking of various forms of discrimination,  the document mentions “sexual” discrimination. It goes on to define discrimination as based on “sexual identity, gender identity or expression”.

It further defines “intolerance is an action or set of actions or expressions that denote disrespect, rejection, or contempt for the dignity, characteristics, convictions, or opinions of persons for being different or contrary.”

If Belize were to approve and ratify such a convention, it would become the duty of the state to prevent and punish “publication, circulation or dissemination, by any form and/or means of communcation, including the Internet, of any materials that advocate, promote or incite hatred, discrimination and intolerance.”

It prohibits even teaching materials that in effect show an inclination towards discrimination and intolerance.

The United States and Canada have already indicated they would not support any such internationally binding agreement or any new convention against racial discrimination.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina clearly stated he would not be supporting this convention, when he addresses  the meeting in Antigua.

The Revised Gender Policy launched by the National Women’s Commission in May has stirred up such a storm of protest, because it touches ever so briefly on the issue of sexual orientation, and mentions men who have sex with men when it proposes reforms in the health system.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LBGT) issue is so sensitive that objections raised by some members of the clergy  prompted the Belize National Teachers Union to study the document in detail and to issue a preliminary statement early this week cautioning the government of Belize to proceed no further with that policy document, certainly not into making it law, until they had time to study it in detail.

So most Belizeans ignored a similar document  being put to the vote in Antigua. But because of the action brought by the United Belizean Action Movement (UNIBAM) in the Supreme Court, Belize had to abstain since  any Belizean vote in an international forum on these issues could be seen to be prejudicing the case still before the courts.

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