Highlights — 07 December 2012 — by Bilal Morris

The landmark case of the government of Belize and the churches versus UNIBAM continued this week as the defense and the prosecution made new statements in court.

It is believed by some UNIBAM supporters that Justice Michelle Arana, in addressing the position of UNIBAM’s preliminary filing of the case, struck out its claim for individual rights but did recognise them as an organization that can claim human rights under the law.

UNIBAM representative, Caleb Orozco, stated that he feels positive about the December 5, 2012 court decision, and that Justice Arana’s ruling in pushing the full hearing of the case to May 7-10 of 2013 has given them time to prepare for the next stage, where they will be able to submit extensions by February 18, 2013. He reiterated that UNIBAM is relentless in its struggle for what he called, “fundamental rights and freedom.”

But critics are noting an attempt by UNIBAM to exploit the recent statement made by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that governments like Belize must do everything in their jurisdiction to modify their laws to protect people who are transgender or who are engaged in same-sex relations.

Pastor Scott Stirm, a spokesperson representing the Belizean churches, still felt that the churches have made some inroads on the case and expressed deep support of the church’s position to stand its ground.

“UNIBAM is trying to use the preamble of the constitution to push a lifestyle in Belize that is unacceptable,” he stated, “They are trying to push this issue as a human rights issue. And there is an international/global agenda that is pushing homosexuality and abortion.”

“On a moral basis we disagree with the U.S. government,” said Stirm. “UNIBAM receives support from the U.S. in the name of human rights. But we will not allow them to legalize this lifestyle so that they have free course to go into the schools and teach our kids their lifestyle.”

Amandala has not been able to get any government position on the latest court proceedings on the issue, but learned through sources that Government remains firm on its position.

The Obama administration recently sent a message this year to countries in the Caribbean and Central America stating that there would be economic repercussions for non-compliance with its policies of acceptance of homosexual and transgender lifestyles.

However, most of the targeted governments – almost all of which are developing countries — have challenged the U.S.’s position as an attempt to force them to accept policies that are not supported by their respective populations.

Orozco, for his part, has expressed his group’s intentions to take the issue to the Court of Appeal and even to the Caribbean Court of Justice if the opposition against them from Government and the religious community continues to mount. Orozco says that they will continue to organize and will start a popular education campaign on the rights of transgender and homosexual individuals across Belize.

“There is a layer of comfort from the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support for our cause here in Belize,” stated Orozco.

According to Pastor Stirm, the Belize Human Rights Commission has shown no backbone in addressing morally degrading issues in Belize. He said that they have exploited the issue for their own interest.

“The Human Rights Commission is pushing the agenda because they are getting big funding for this,” stated Stirm. “Where was the Human Rights Commission when Jasmine Lowe was murdered?” he asked.

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