7 News Belize

UNIBAM: We Are One
posted (January 27, 2012)
On Monday UNIBAM's constitutional challenge of constitutionality of section 53 of the criminal code is going to the Supreme Court of Belize for a Preliminary Hearing.

And today, UNIBAM launched its public relations campaign to get sympathetic members of the community to come on board and show support.

Now, if you've been watching the polls, you might say they don't have very much support, but UNIBAM is appealing to what they believe is the silent majority, and today they pulled out all the stops: Attorneys, Human Rights experts and a Christian Minister to get the message out.

We were at the press conference and here's how it went:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

The purpose of today's press conference was to launch these wrist-bands:

Caleb Orozco - Executive President, UNIBAM
"The bracelets for us are our attempt to increase the visibility of the issue, but, more precisely, for generating solidarity among individuals. You may not agree with our issue, but, at the end of the day, as Belizeans we all expect the same treatment of dignity and rights. At this end, the bands are designed to generate dialogue, to generate- to get people to reflect whether their intolerance is logical and justified about a set of people that they know nothing about, about a set of people that they hear gossip and inflaming statements about. And if we can generate sufficient dialogue on this issue through the wearing of the wristbands, we would have done our job."

And to fuel that dialogue, there's this savvy ad campaign:

The message is "we are one in dignity and rights" - turning what's been coloured as a gay rights issue into a human rights one:

Antoinette Moore
"No one is excluded from the human family, and, therefore, no one is excluded from the enjoyment of their basic rights."

And while that is a universal sentiment, is it Belizean one? Credible foreign media have reported that the challenging of buggery laws in is part of an international campaign by gay rights advocates:

Lisa Shoman, Co-Counsel, UNIBAM
"The case really is an issue that has been raised in Belize by Belizeans. There a lot of misconceptions as to how this case was brought, and I can say that, along with my co-counsel in this case, we represent Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement. But it is important that Belizeans understand that this is a case brought by Belizeans, about Belizeans, about the Belizean criminal code, and the constitution of Belize. There is no foreign entity that is driving this."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you an agent or are your strings being pulled - and your bills being paid - by any international human rights group?"

Caleb Orozco
"Well I can say, first and assertively, that I don't need my strings to be pulled when I'm being threatened on the streets. As to the quotes by the foreign press, love, you know and I know that foreign press can say anything they want- doesn't mean that's what's actually happening on the ground. For me, I operate on principle and integrity and character. Nothing else disturbs me more than when misinformation is passed on to an entire society without first getting it at the source. In the end, London isn't driving this case- it's the people at the University of The West Indies; it's me."

And Orozco says he's gotten a number of threats - this one from an armed policeman.

Caleb Orozco
"He said, 'you da Belizean?' [Are you Belizean?] I said, 'yes.' He said, 'you da fagit?' [are you a faggot] I said, 'yes.' He said, 'fagit, noh bring dat fagit ting ya' [faggot, don't bring that faggot thing here]. And then he moved on."

But today there was none of that, even an ordained pastor who is visiting the country lent her voice to the cause in songful prayer:

Mary Martin - United Church of Christ
[singing] "From whence does my help come? From God who made heaven and earth"

And while that was a singular appearance, UNIBAM is hardly trying to hide behind the veil of Christianity:

Jules Vasquez
"Are you afraid of any eternal damnation- type event? Many feel that you are eternally damned."

Caleb Orozco
"Well, my friends at the Catholic Church need to check their billion dollar budget; my good friends at the Anglican Church need to check their overdraft, and my good friends at the Evangelical Association need to check their pastors. I'm not worrying about the eternal damnation; my concern is simply to ensure that social justice prevails- not for a select few, but for everybody, and in this case I'm just the face to an issue."

The wrist bands are available directly from Caleb Orozco. You can facebook him if you want one of the wrist bands...

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