Is the stage being set to push through the decriminalization of sodomy in Belize?According to UNAIDS sponsored surveys; Belize may very well be ready for the move.Two years ago the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) sponsored two surveys: one, regarding attitidues and perceptions toward social and health issues in the Caribbean region; the other, concerning the response to health issues among men who have sex with men (MSM), or homosexuals.
The results of those surveys were released at an event in Belize City this morning, and UNAIDS says the results of their own surveys show a country showing a more tolerant and even accepting attitude. 773 persons were polled in November of 2013 of which 34% say they would be accepting of the homosexual lifestyle and another 34% saying they would be tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. 91% of those polled said they would favor age appropriate Health and Family Life training in schools while 82% said they would favor introduction of condom and contraception use among Belizean High school student. UNAIDS is planning a similar survey this November to see whether the numbers “hold up”. UNAID says that Belize’s figures put it along with Suriname as the countries most accepting of homosexuality. However, according to the UNAIDS surveys, 41% of persons polled said they were concerned over the confidentiality of HIV test results and so they are less likely to get tested. Gustavo Perera, Executive Director of the National AIDS Commission, says there is still more work to do to spread awareness.
” Well we know that there is at least anecdotally been said that there is some level of discrimination that discourages people from testing. So through training, through education, try to create a more enabling environment that is more friendly towards all populations. We are always… also trying to find more evidence based studies that could help us to know more precisely to know what are the real issues. Some of the evidence ,so to speak ,are more anecdote, so we are always trying to make sure that our assumptions are more evidence based and the actions can be more precise. “
Perera says that the reports have been presented to Government and it was suggested that a wider public forum was necessary to spread the word about the reports’ findings.