Americas / Commentary / Faith and religion

Do you have advice for LGBT rights activists in Belize?

Caleb Orozco of United Belize Advocacy Movement (Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)

Caleb Orozco of United Belize Advocacy Movement (Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)

What strategy should an LGBT rights group pursue when homophobic religious leaders launch a counterattack?

That’s what Caleb Orozco, executive president of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, wants to know.

He is hoping that experienced LGBT activists and others around the world will make suggestions in the comments section below.

Earlier this month, the country’s health ministry withdrew a health manual over concerns about how it discussed homosexuality. Here’s the situation, as Orozco describes it:

As Belize’s legal challenge of its sodomy law moves through our Supreme Court, we have found the Christian right conflating our case with the issue of gay marriage. They have also conflated the broader issue of advancing the human rights of LGBT persons with the manual for health and family life, and then made even more assertions.

Opponents have been saying:

  • The manual is a tool to support the gay agenda;
  • We will want gay pride and
  • We are after the children.

In response, the LGBT community has organized itself on Facebook to act as news monitors, report on cases of discrimination, provide advice on promotional ideas and other PR activities. Except, now we are stuck on the following:

  1. How does one energize a base to get them to want to demand rights protection in legislation, despite fears?
  2. How do we get political and build alliances in a small civil society environment where organizations are sheepish to take a public stand?
  3. How do we draw the private sector in and more well-placed L.G.B.T persons to support?
  4. How do we deliver our message in an environment restricted by a media prone to sensationalizing and creating controversy?
  5. How do we speak to politicians and build a base of policymaker support?

These questions are critical to understanding best practices, strategies, etc. and how it could be applied. Any response to these questions would be greatly appreciated.


Caleb Orozco
Executive President
United Belize Advocacy Movement

5 thoughts on “Do you have advice for LGBT rights activists in Belize?

  1. Hi Caleb, Lloyd here from Australia. I am an amateur activist: that is, I write letters to the government, foreign affairs ministry and have had a couple of stories published on the gay rights situation in Ghana, Jamaica and Uganda. I am by no means a professional but these are my thoughts:
    If you are operating in a risky environment, discretion is the key. Start a secret group on Facebook and only add safe people to it; although it would be good to go in guns blazing, that can backfire. It sounds like you need to take the softly softly approach. Let me start at No.5. This one is very important. I think that if you approach these politicians, do so in the correct manner, ie. appointments, and don’t go for too much too soon. Simply explain the hardships of being LGBT in your country to them and gauge their response. If they are sympathetic, outlay your concerns to them. However you know your country better than I do, and if approaching them could mean arrest, don’t do it! However you could make a phone call and see their response to it, but be careful of bribery ,ie if they try to get you to meet them then have the police waiting. I hope I don’t sound negative, I just want you all to be safe! With number 4, with each story you see in a newspaper, or even on tv, get members of your group to write a letter refuting the claims and pointing out the sensationalism. They can use pseudonyms if they are concerned for their safety. Whether they print it or not tells you what their reaction is. You could even get someone to write a story, anoymously if they wish, about what it is like to be LGBT in Belize: papers love stories about sexuality and may publish it because they think people will buy it. So the key is to be polite but honest. Regarding number 1, create a nice atmosphere for your group. Often gay people in homophobic countries have strong relationships with each other because the rest of society rejects you. Foster these relationships. Also, look out for straight allies. They can be very helpful, because they then talk about it to others who also may offer you support. I hope I have been helpful. I wish you the very best of luck. Lloyd, Australia.


  2. Hi Caleb,

    This is a vast area, and it rather depends on where you’re starting from and what the current situation is within your country. I’d be happy to have a lengthier chat via e-mail. I’m an IntDev and NGO consultant with experience in Policy & Advocacy, and the LGBT sector.


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