And in one last bit of political news for tonight – the PM was grilled on the flap over the Revised National Gender Policy. As we’ve reported that document has come under intense scrutiny from the Christian for seeming to suggest that homosexual rights should be mainstreamed into cultural and religious practices. The mere suggestion has started an angry crusade against the document and, by extension, the government. A lot of it centers around the fact that the churches were not consulted while UNIBAM apparently was. The PM answered this criticism:
Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"Churches were not consulted specifically, they are on various sort of satellite bodies, the Aids Commission, the National Committee for Families and Children, but in terms of the writing up of the policy by the consultant and it's finalization, it is my understanding that the churches were not directly involved. But as I've said to Bishop Phillip Wright, the policy is not a platform for legislative action, the policy is to some extent, aspirational, and it can do no more than inform governments' attitude. If we ever wanted to legislate, and the question of whether there ought to be legislation in certain areas to make the word flesh with respect to protection of peoples' rights, If we ever wanted to legislate there would have to be wide spread consultation and an effort at some sort of a consensus, so when people see the policy as the thinning of the wedge - when they get from there to the suggestion that this opening the door to some kind of legislation that would sanction same sex marriages, my God, that's entirely bizarre, its completely out of the question and not a factor in the equation at all. We also, as I think the press release made clear, took out the last few words in the paragraph dealing with respect for diversity because those few last words could have well been interpreted as government trying to oblige the religious community to in fact act in a certain way. This is governments' policy and this is what ought to inform governments' actions and we certainly are prepared to maintain very strongly that paragraph, absent those words, which then, results mainly in the statement that government policy is going to be informed and should be informed by a respect for diversity of all types, including diversity of sexual orientation."
"But there are homosexuals within the ranks of every realm of human endeavor in Belize and the leader of the opposition has acknowledged, which can't be argued as a matter of fact that there are homosexuals in the PUP and they are certainly welcome. Will you say the same for the UDP?"
Hon. Dean Barrow
"I don't want to say anything that the leader of the opposition has said, you will understand, I can speak for myself. But the fact of the homosexuality is, as you say, a fact of life, certainly it is very much a part of what is happening in Belizean society. There can be no discrimination in terms of employment opportunities, in terms of access to health care, in terms of the services that the society offers. This administration certainly is not concerned about what happens in the bedrooms of the employees of the government, there are constitutional protections for public officers, properly appointed, and even with respect to open vote workers there can never be any kind of interference, any kind of surveillance, any kind of concern about the sexual orientation of the employees of government."