Death threats, symbols of death haunt Belize LGBTs

Effigy hangs at Belize protest march. (Photo via Facebook)
Effigy hangs at Belize protest march. (Photo via Facebook)

STOP THE MARCH TOWARD MURDER

Protesters opposed to gay rights in Belize have gone too far, adopting hate-filled symbolism that stops just short of explicitly calling for the murder of LGBT people.  Others take that last step, calling for the death of people who support gay rights.

In one case, a coffin was used to depict the nation’s proposed and controversial gender policy, which opponents claim would promote gay rights because it mentioned sexual orientation in a section on respecting diversity.

Effigy hanging at anti-gay protest in Belize. (Photo via Facebook)
Effigy hanging at anti-gay protest in Belize. (Photo via Facebook)

In another case, a lynched effigy was hanging at a recent protest march with the label “Unibam,” the name of the LGBT-rights organization that seeks the repeal of the nation’s anti-sodomy law. (See photos above and at right.)

Caleb Orozco, the head of Unibam (the United Belize Advocacy Movement), has been receiving death threats.  The most recent was a Twitter post urging that he be killed. In May, during his court challenge to the sodomy law, Orozco was threatened and his car was vandalized.

“There are threats for killing, burning, shooting; you name it. It has to stop. We are all Belizeans. We can agree to disagree without getting violent about it,” his attorney said at the time.

Orozco said, “In an environment where over 300 persons have been killed from 2010-2012, … the national debate is getting out of hand.”

In May, two Belizean opponents of homosexuality responded quite differently to the death threats.  Both reiterated their support of the nation’s sodomy law, but Anglican Bishop Phillip Wright criticized those who perpetrate violence.  Catholic priest the Rev. Ian Taylor alleged that homosexuals were probably responsible for any violence.

This week, Lisel Alamilla, a Belizean senator and the minister of forestry, fisheries and sustainable development, published an online essay decrying the promotion of hate crimes against gay men and women in Belize.

“I do not oppose persons having different views or religious beliefs, but it concerns me immensely when those are being communicated by misinformation, manipulation and fear with could result in hate crime,” she wrote on her Facebook page.  Accompanying her essay were photographs [shown above] of the effigy, which was hanging at the previous week’s anti-gay-rights in Toledo, southern Belize.

“The photo  … is EXTREMELY concerning and even frightening,” she said. She wrote:

“Will they soon be hanging women who dare to be leaders? Would they have hanged my son who was disabled? Would they hang me because I am Mestizo who married a black man? You may say absolutely NOT; but tell me then why is it okay for them to have the cardboard cut out of a person, with a noose around its neck and the word UNIBAM written across its back? Is this not promoting hate, will this not lead to hate crimes?”

The photo below shows the coffin labeled “Gender Policy” at a previous demonstration.

Alamilla wrote about that policy that it “not a homosexual policy. It is a policy that guides how government will protect the rights of ALL its people. That is the responsibility of government.”

Coffin on top of car at anti-gay-rights protest is labeled "Gender Policy."
Coffin on top of car at anti-gay-rights protest is labeled “Gender Policy.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

    One Ping

    1. Pingback:

    Leave a Reply

    Glimmer of legal hope for LGBTs in Russia

    Mandela’s queer legacy: freedom, more struggles for LGBTs