More meetings on Gender Policy for the Prime Minister

Seven Pastors from the Belmopan Area Coalition of Churches met this morning with the Prime Minister and three of his cabinet Ministers regarding the Revised Gender Policy 2013. The meeting started at 9:30 this morning and it wasn’t until three hours after that the group of seven made their way out of the PM’s office. As you may be aware, Prime Minister Barrow has made it clear that he has no intentions of fully removing the Policy. In that light, we asked Pastor Francis Wade about the productivity of today’s meeting.

Pastor Francis Wade:
vlcsnap-2013-06-07-18h50m38s14What he is adamant about is the retracting of the document in it’s entirety.  It’s not as if he said he was not open to dialogue pertaining to certain terminology, and that is the crux of our problem.  As a Church there are certain terms within that document that just literally scares us, because it bodes ill for Belize in that it seemingly is taking an anti-God position.  So those were some of the terms that we were able to iron out with the Prime minister and three of his Cabinet members. He’s still of the same mindset that he will not retract the document, however we had major inroads in changing certain terminology, and that dialogue will continue.

In terms of the wording within the policy, the church would like to see the amending and clear defining of “gender” to mean male and female in a revised policy, and the removal of sexual orientation while allowing for proper and transparent consultation. Pastor Scott Stirm and Pastor Francis Wade told us what the PM had to say about the words “sexual orientation”

Pastor Francis Wade:
That word, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers do understand.  They have come now into the understanding that that term could easily mean that you are pro the LGBT agenda. There will be work towards changing that.  there will not be the total retracting of it, but that definition formed the crux of our conversation this morning. It will be changed.  Now how will that be changed?   They will be looking at different terminology that will be neutral to both causes. 

Pastor Scott Sterm:
vlcsnap-2013-06-07-18h51m21s192Judgement-free was the terminology that he used.  Also we made a very clear point that we represent the Belmopan Area Coalition of Churches.  We are putting together a broader comprehensive report, that’s being reviewed by not only attorneys but sociologists, education leaders, business leaders, and we are compiling that report. Ultimately that’s our real feedback, because some of the specialists in different areas caught words that the rest of us glanced over.  So we did make clear to the Prime Minister that there is a larger comprehensive report which we are going to be submitting to him in writing. But we did agree in principle that these are some of the areas where there’s some major red flags.  If these areas are changed, it helps change the document tremendously for us.

While the PM refers to the Revised Gender Policy as an overall good policy, Francis Wade says that Government overlooked the red flags which the Church was able to indentify and this is why a responsible Government should consult with all societal partners when it comes to such things.

Pastor Francis Wade:
vlcsnap-2013-06-07-18h50m27s137They didn’t see the red flags.  Our position to them was simply that is the reason why there must be dialogue between the Government and the Church, because there are some things that they will not catch.  We will catch those things because it is our job to safeguard the way of life for us as Belizeans, but to safeguard what we like to call the Constitution of God, which happens to make up the preamble to our Constitution. So we red-flagged those things and the truth is they were very open to those things, to not only the accepting of those things, but to the changing of those terminologies.  Of course, we know that after all is said and done, more is normally said that done, so we will be on the lookout to make sure that the things we spoke about this morning would be implemented, and that we would see those in print.

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