Opposition Leader comments on Gender Policy 2013

vlcsnap-2013-05-28-21h10m37s153The backlash against the 2013 revised national gender policy of the National Women’s Commission has been swift from the Christian community, angered by apparently amended definitions of gender to appease the LGBT community and whispers of a plan to legalize prostitution. The Commission and Cabinet, which approved the policy in March, have proposed to delete the offending sections from the policy and say they should not have been there in the first place. Today Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca contends the problem was consultation – or rather, the lack of it.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
vlcsnap-2013-05-29-19h53m15s112I am the leader of a political party that embraces all Belizeans.  I have Belizeans in my party who are homosexuals, and we embrace all Belizeans.  I think the major criticism that I have heard of the Gender Policy from the Church community is that there was no consultation.  They were not at the table.  They were not allowed to be a part of the discussion. Obviously yes. they have specific concerns about definitions and how certain words are being interpreted, and I think that that is a legitimate concern for them, as the Church community. But most of all, I think the greatest criticism has been that there was no consultation, that the Government has been saying one thing, and you have the Minister of Human Development, “Boots” Martinez, getting up, even at these Church rallies,  and saying one thing out of the side of his mouth, and then his official policies coming out of his Ministry are saying another thing.

But what of the PUP, whose deputy leader Julius Espat has gone on record against homosexuality, but whose Senator, Lisa Shoman, is an attorney for Caleb Orozco in his suit against the Government? According to Fonseca, that just proves we can all get along.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
But that’s the point.  Embrace everybody, even those who have another view.  That’s the point.  But we also have, as you know, people in our party who are very, very vocal on this issue, in fact we’re advocates for equality, advocates. Senator Lisa Shoman is obviously one of the first persons that comes to mind when we talk about this issue.  There are a lot of criticisms of people about her role as a Senator. But I believe she deserves that right.  She’s acting in her capacity as a lawyer, but she’s also an advocate, has long been an advocate for equality. We have to embrace that.  The People’s United Party, we have to embrace the Julius Espats, we have to embrace the Lisa Shomans, and that is what will make for a stronger, more vibrant party, that is reflective of Belize and our society.  

The Opposition Leader appears to disagree with Shoman on taking the issue to a referendum.

Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
That’s an option.  We always believing in hearing from the people.  So I think the issue of a referendum is certainly one option.  We can obviously debate it and discuss it in Parliament. But certainly, that is an option.  But it is before the Courts, and I think we have to await the decision of the Courts.  

That decision is expected by the end of June.

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