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Government upholding Respect for Diversity of All Types Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00

On Tuesday, May 28th, Cabinet announced that it would make amendments to the Revised National Gender Policy 2013 in response to concerns raised by church leaders. One of the guiding principles of the document reads:


“Men and Women in Belize are not a homogenous group. Rather, the population is comprised of persons of all ages who come from diverse races, cultures, ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, socio-economic situations and behavioral lifestyles. All policies and programmes must therefore reflect this reality of diversity among the Belizean populace and customary, religious and cultural practices must be subject to the right of equality.”

Cabinet decided to order the removal of the last part of the statement which says, “…and programmes must therefore reflect this reality of diversity among the Belizean populace and customary, religious and cultural practices must be subject to the right of equality.” When asked about the decision to omit that part of the statement, Prime Minister Barrow said, “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.” He says that is not Government’s intention.

While PM Barrow understood how that part of the statement could have been interpreted as Government trying to dictate the actions of the religious community, he found it incredible that “people see the policy as the thinning of the wedge - when they get from there to the suggestion that this open the door to some kind of legislation that would sanction same sex marriages.” He totally dismissed that notion saying, “My God, that’s entirely bizarre. It’s completely out of the question and not a factor in the equation at all.” He called in on Wave Radio’s ‘Fus Ting da Manin” on Tuesday, June 4th, and explained, “the policy is principally about equality between the sexes. Trying to ensure that the traditional restrictions that have attached to the role of a woman will be no more; trying to ensure that there will be no discrimination - trying to empower women. That is the basic preoccupation with that policy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and there is everything right with that!”

The Prime Minister is disappointed that an organization such as the BNTU has put out a statement against the policy and “have not even read the policy or consult with Government”. To the individuals who have been lured into a campaign against the policy based on misrepresentation of its content, PM Barrow said, “Please read this thing properly before running your mouth.”

Prime Minister Barrow went on to reiterate Government’s position of respect for diversity. He said, “This is government’s policy and this is what ought to inform Government’s 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.” He said that just as the statement on respect for diversity was changed because it contained a phrase that could be misunderstood, he is prepared to listen to rational concerns about other areas of the policy. However, he said, “Unless and until there can be the kind of discussion that premise on a correct understanding of what is there in the policy,Government shall not be moved.”