PUP favours withdrawal of Gender Policy in current form after Opposition Leader meets with Church Leaders

vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h57m52s35Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Francis Fonseca and Deputy Party Leader of the PUP Hon. Julius Espat met this morning in the City of Belmopan with leaders of the wider Christian Community from within the Cayo District. The subject at hand; the controversial National Gender Policy of 2013.  Since its release last month, the document has caused quite a stir; first with the inclusion of a policy against the discrimination of gender orientation or sexual identity and it’s want to amend existing legislation to legalize and regulate the sex work industry. Plus news was present at this morning’s meeting and spoke with Hon. Francis Fonseca.
Hon. Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h58m11s228We fully respect and recognize that Belize is a Christian nation and our Constitution acknowledged the supremacy of God and I think the most important decision we made today and conclusion we reached was in saying – Listen, the Gender Policy has been so poisoned and that while there are good objectives and good goals that the Gender Policy may have set, it has become so poisoned that we really need to withdraw that policy; we need to allow the churches to have a full and comprehensive look at that policy to offer their recommendations on how we can refine that policy and make it more reflective of our needs and aspirations as a country and only after that process has taken place, should we then talk about re-tabling the Gender Policy.

vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h57m14s188Hon. Fonseca also added that Cabinets decision to have the line which states “amend existing legislation to legalize and regulate the sex work industry” removed from the policy is not enough of an action by the Government and that it needs to be removed completely and that the Church must be consulted before it is tabled again.

Hon. Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
No, I don’t think it’s sufficient enough; I have talked to so many people and so many church leaders that it is absolutely clear to me that if we want this Gender Policy to have any meaningful impact on our society moving forward, it cannot move forward in its current state. It needs to be withdrawn and we need to allow the churches to take a comprehensive look at it, review it, and as I said, off of their specific recommendations. As I said to the church leaders, that doesn’t that everything they offer will be accepted, but certainly we need to go through that process before we end up with a final product, because if not we will end up with a Gender Policy that just sits on the shelf, gathering dust and has absolutely no impact on our society.

Jesse Mendoza
And that’s the official position of the party to have it removed?

Hon. Francis Fonseca – Opposition Leader:
As I indicated to the church leaders – Listen I have not had an official meeting of the National Executive, but it is certainly my view and I have spoken to a majority of the members in that Executive and that is their view. So yes, I think it certainly reflects our party’s position at this time, on this issue.

Pastor Francis “Frankie” Wade is the Pastor of Living Waters Fellowship Church and he gave us his thoughts about the policy and this morning’s meeting with the Leader of the Opposition

Pastor Francis “Frankie” Wade – Living Waters Fellowship Church:
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h58m32s187I believe that all in all it was a very good meeting, but we do not really see the proof of meetings within the meetings themselves. So we will be on the lookout to see what will come as a result of this meeting today.
People need to take positions.  We cannot allow ourselves to be cold or to be timid by any minority.  As a matter of fact, if there’s supposed to be no discrimination, then we must be free to state our position. So what we’re looking for is that we’re simply asking from the Opposition Party, one: What is your position? And two: Would you please for the sake of the country state that position on such a policy?
We must stay true to what truth is.  There’s nothing in there that really acknowledges the supremacy of God.  So if we start from  a wrong premise, if we start from the wrong position, we will always end up wrong.

Former Speaker of the House Mrs. Elizabeth Zabaneh and Pastor Mario Silva of Abundant Life Assembly of God from Belmopan gave their view on the book.

Mrs. Elizabeth Zabaneh – Former Speaker of the House:
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h58m48s100The Party Leader, Mr Francis Fonseca, explained himself very well.  I never ever had doubts about what he said in that interview, because we do have to embrace everybody, and we need to remember in the Spirit of Jesus that it’s not the sinner, it’s the sin. I think Mr Julius told us that this morning too. So I have a very good feeling, and I think the nation will unite behind us.  Homosexuality is not a way of life.  It’s a choice and it’s an abomination.  It’s against God, and so there is no good that can come out of this, and i think the Gender Policy has to go. 

Pastor Mario Silva – Abundant Life Assembly of God:
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h58m56s192We stand firm upon the position that we totally reject the Gender Policy 2013, because [there are] so many things that are being said in that Policy that totally defies the Word of God.  We stand firm upon the Word of God, and we are willing to use any and every asset that we have to make sure that that Gender Policy is withdrawn, and to go through further consultation with the Church.

Late this evening, the PUP issued a press release on the party’s official position on the issue. Here is that release in its entirety:

imagesCAEBHXK8On Wednesday June 5th, 2013 Party Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca and Deputy Party Leader Julius Espat met, at their invitation, with church leaders of the Cayo District particularly those representing Belmopan and surrounding communities. Following presentations from Pastors Scott Stirm and Louis Wade, the Party Leader addressed the gathering and the meeting concluded with a robust, frank, open, respectful discussion with meaningful contributions from various members of the Church community. In light of the discussion and the very serious concerns expressed by the Church leaders present the PUP recommends to the Government of Belize the following:
1. A complete withdrawal of the Revised National Gender Policy in its current form. This, we believe, is the only way to preserve support for ANY Gender Policy moving forward.
2. Allow the Church Community and/or their representatives to undertake a full and comprehensive review of the Policy in its current form and make recommendations for refining and revising the Policy.
3. Only after this has taken place should the policy be re-tabled for Cabinet and National Assembly approval.  The Revised National Gender Policy 2013 has some very good objectives and aspirations which all Belizeans can and should support but our Church Community must be given every opportunity to offer their views on the Policy if it is to have any chance of forming the basis for meaningful and effective change in our society.

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