In a video statement to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow, spoke out against the “terrible” violence that LGBT people face.
“We have seen cases in Belize where they have been physically attacked or subjected to insults without provocation,” Simplis Barrow says. “Violence is never justified despite our differences,” she emphasizes, adding, “no one deserves the inhumane treatment that many LGBT persons suffer; they’re often in fear, not only for their physical safety, but for their lives, and that is no way to live.”
Her video statement was a feature of an IDAHOT event, attended by more than 150 people, that was held in Belize City May 17.
“We hope that events like this will help young LGBT Belizeans and their loved ones to feel supported and not alone,” says Paul Schmidt, one of the organizers of the country’s 2014 IDAHOT. “Belize is one of many countries that continues to permit discrimination against LGBT individuals both legally and societally, through stigma and, sadly, often through intimidation and violence. This has had tragic results, with individuals and families across the country living in fear or bereavement, having suffered the loss of loved ones unnecessarily.”
Section 53 of Belize’s criminal code, which, in part, criminalizes gay sex, has been challenged in the Supreme Court by gay rights advocate Caleb Orozco, who faced threats to his life after launching the high-profile case.
Belize’s Immigration Act also bars the entry of “any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behaviour.”