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#468982 - 07/25/13 02:52 PM U.S. Religious-Right works against LGBT in Belize
Marty Online   happy

U.S. Religious-Right Groups Working to Keep Criminal Statutes Barring LGBT Sex in Belize and Other Caribbean Countries

As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continue making strides toward equality in the United States, hard-line U.S. religious-right groups that have spent decades demonizing LGBT people are focusing their attention – and propaganda – on a legal battle over the criminalization of LGBT sex in Belize, the outcome of which could affect criminal statutes in as many as a dozen other Caribbean countries, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report released today.

Dangerous Liaisons: The American Religious Right & the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize examines how these groups are working in countries where anti-gay attitudes are strong and violence against the LGBT community is common. Several prominent groups have descended on the tiny Central American country of Belize to prevent Section 53, a statute criminalizing gay sex, from being struck down in court. Their efforts already have intensified anti-LGBT attitudes in the country, where the plaintiff in the case has been threatened and physically assaulted.

“Many of these American religious-right groups know they have lost the battle against LGBT rights in the United States, and they’re now aiding and abetting anti-LGBT forces in countries where anti-gay violence is prevalent,” said Heidi Beirich, report author and director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “These groups are pouring fuel on an exceedingly volatile fire.”

Groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) often refuse to even publicly acknowledge their efforts in these countries. The ADF, a prominent Christian legal group formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, joined the legal battle in Belize by providing advice to defenders of Section 53, a criminal statute that prescribes a 10-year sentence for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal.”

Other groups working abroad include the American Center for Law and Justice, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, Family Watch International, United Families International, and the World Congress of Families.

The legal contest in Belize is only the latest in a wider struggle that is simultaneously being waged in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and elsewhere. Overturning Section 53 in Belize could lead to the demise of similar statutes in a dozen other countries that are part of a single legal system culminating in the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Since the arrival of the groups in Belize, LGBT activists have reported an increase in anti-gay propaganda imported from the United States – such as the bogus claim that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles.

Caleb Orozco, who is challenging the statute that criminalizes LGBT sex in Belize, said he has seen a change after the ADF’s arrival.

“I didn’t feel as insecure [before the ADF’s arrival],” he said. “The majority of people had a live-and-let-live attitude toward gays, which is ‘Do your thing, just don’t bring it to my house.’ But the controversy really gave people permission to express their hate in a way they didn’t see they had permission to before.”

Orozco has been physically assaulted in the streets and threatened with death. His lawyers worry that he could be assassinated, an event that would end the lawsuit, since he is the only plaintiff.

A report released this March by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance, a human rights group, found that the LGBT community in Belize is routinely subjected to violence, even from law enforcement officials. The report cited, among other violent crimes, the bludgeoning death of an openly gay doctor and the murder of a politician’s gay brother in his own home. It also noted that border officials have regularly detained and harassed visitors they suspect of being gay.

Uganda, where a similar battle over the criminalization of gay sex has been raging for years, has seen violence as well. In 2010, a newspaper there published front-page photos and the home addresses of gay men under the headline “Hang Them.” Twenty-three days later, an LGBT activist on the list was murdered in his home.

“These American groups are clearly fanning the flames of anti-gay hatred,” Beirich said. “They need to explain how their stated goals of protecting religious liberty and marriage means bringing the full weight of the criminal law down on LGBT people.”

CLICK here for the entire report, DANGEROUS LIAISONS: The American Religious Right & the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize


The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education, litigation and advocacy. Its Intelligence Project tracks the activities of hate groups and monitors militia and other extremist, antigovernment activity. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org

#469019 - 07/26/13 06:05 AM Re: U.S. Religious-Right works against LGBT in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Southern Poverty Law Center Takes On Stirm

For the past few months, Christian homophobes who have been at the forefront the campaign against what they call the LGBT agenda have been saying that UNIBAM’s constitutional challenge is really a foreign agenda being forced on the Belizean Society.

They say that Gay Rights Activist Caleb Orozco is being funded, controlled and or directed by international interests who are simply trying to topple Belize’s sodomy laws as part of a worldwide campaign to mainstream gay lifestyles.

Well, today, UNIBAM and one of its supporting agencies fired back when the US NGO known as the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report called “DANGEROUS LIAISONS: The American Religious Right & the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize”.

In this report, the SPLC is claiming that the local religious groups like Belize Action who’ve taken the forefront are being funded and directed by US religious conservative groups with millions of dollars for an annual budget.

Via a telephone a press conference today, the director of SPLC announced to international media about the significance of the report. 7News listened in, and we have an excerpt of that launching. Here’s how that presentation went:

Heidi Beirich - Director, Southern Poverty Law Center
"The report in short lays out several things, includes the section of the situation in Belize - the involvement of an American anti-groups there, have profile for 6 US groups including the ADF that are working for furthering criminalization internationally and has a timeline of these activities. There's also a Q & A with Caleb at his work and the threats he's faced. So there's one big take away that we're hoping from this research and similar researches have been done by other American groups on criminalization in other countries. We need to call out these American groups from being involved in this kind of stuff. There is surely can't be a bigger manifestation of hating the sinner as focused on the families than bringing the full wave of criminal lock down on someone for their personal sexual activities. It's uncivilized, it can't possibly be Christian - as Rick Warren now says and other major religious figure such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu made clear. Clearly homophobia has been a problem in Belize - that's not a question here - but the involvement of these American groups is adding fuel to the fire in that country and violence against the LGBT community in Belize and other places where American groups have injected themselves is on the rise according to the UN and other human rights organizations. To inject these defamatory ideas in a country like Belize where anti-LGBT policy is so deep that if you're gay you cannot enter the country - you'll be banned. You can be thrown in jail for practicing same sex is beyond irresponsible - we can thank groups such as the ADF for making a bad situation much much worse. Caleb Orozco along with the other organizations and lawyers have brought this section 53 case can attest to the violence as he himself has been subjected to it but won't speak of it. In many ways maybe we shouldn't be so surprised for groups like ADF for engaging in these activities, after all they're basically losing the battle against LGBT rights. In the United States witnessed the recent Prop8 case where the ADF was actually involved in defending Prop8 and lost. The spread of gay marriage and all of these things are leading such groups to find themselves on the wrong side of history and it wasn't too long ago that the ADF and certain other groups we discussed in our report were arguing forcibly in front of the Supreme Court here that the end of sodomy laws would be destructive to the United States and its culture. As things are turning against their views and their matters here - they are increasingly taking their battle abroad and that is what Belize represents. In that effort they're making some really unsavory alliances - by that I mean anti-LGBT groups in the US are allying themselves with the groups in governments in other countries such as Saudi Arabia to push anti-LGBT initiatives in international bodies. What's ironic about this is that many of these countries actively prosecute Christians but that doesn't seem to bother the ADF for example CFAM and their battle against what they call the homosexual agenda. They are building legal teams on the international level."

We reached Pastor Scott Stirm, tonight who says he’s going to review the report and he will file a lawsuit on it for nay inconsistencies. He denied that there is any foreign agenda and disclaimed any ties to any international right wing religious groups.

Channel 7

#469083 - 07/27/13 05:39 AM Re: U.S. Religious-Right works against LGBT in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Caleb On “Dangerous Liaisons” Report

Last night, we told you about the launching of the Southern Poverty Law Center's 2013 report called "Dangerous Liaisons: The American Religious Right and the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize".

The report purports to track the influence of extremist right wing religious groups and their influence in Belize for the last 3 years as they provide assistance to local religious groups in resisting the UNIBAM Challenge to the sodomy laws.

The 26 page document is extensive, looking at US groups like Extreme Prophetic Ministries of Phoenix, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), and the Alliance Defending Freedom and tracking their influence on local organisations like Pastor Scott Stirm's Belize Action.

Stirm denies the reports findings, but SPLC is internationally recognized as a credible outreach Organization. One thing which is certain is that if the report is accurate, then the leading personalities have been participating in the very same thing that they've accused Activist Caleb Orozco of doing; that is, working with and for organizations with a so called "foreign agenda".

So, yesterday 7News caught up with Orozco, and we asked him to explain the nature and importance behind the SPLC report.

Caleb Orozco - Executive President, UNIBAM
"The basic intention was to launch the report 'Dangerous Liaisons' and that is really an attempt to look at the do minus movement that has been occurring all over the world and precisely who was pushing the menace movement. A part of it is knowing that yes, Evangelicals as they loose their grounds in the US - they have been exploiting their media strategy, their educational material - their language public in regards to how you oppose LGBT human rights. And so strategies and those materials have been borrowed by Belize action for example Belize action had a fellow at their first family meeting held at UB and he spoke about true human rights and helped them in a sense build a capacity of understanding what human rights is and they have continued to copy that too. He not only influenced the way Belize Action spoke. We've collected all of Belize Action's support material and why we saw was the Catholic family in Human Rights institute presence - what we saw was the Alliance Defence Fund and I want to explain to explain ADF. ADF is a Christian fellowship of lawyers created just to undermine the fundamental rights and freedom of LGBT citizens in the US and one of their biggest thing was opposing Prop8 which was launched in California. They have a budget of $30 million dollars - in no way can we even come close to half a million so where David tried to defeat Goliath that's one. CFAM - they have a history of conflating, confusing and working with places like Saudi Arabia and Iran to undermine rights."

As we reported, we spoke with Pastor Scott Stirm who categorically denied any involvement with any foreign interest. He told that Belize Action is 100% Belizean funded, directed and managed.

Channel 7

#469533 - 08/04/13 06:07 AM Re: U.S. Religious-Right works against LGBT in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

The proxy wars of gay rights

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe," wrote abolitionist minister Theodore Parker in 1853. "The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice."

More than a century later, Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrased and popularized that idea. It is often quoted now for its inspirational power and the first part of Parker's metaphor gets forgotten: the reminder that while freedom might be winning the war, it will not win every battle.

And sometimes - to throw one more metaphor in the mix - the march of freedom is not only arrested, but pushed back for a time. Victories for freedom in one part of the world might trigger backlashes in other parts, by forcing bigots to concentrate their efforts where they think they can win. This has happened with feminism, particularly when it comes to sexuality and reproductive freedom, and it is happening with gay rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., and began its life by bringing cases against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, published a report in July about this phenomenon. Called Dangerous Liaisons: The American Religious Right and the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize, it connects recent victories for tolerance in the U.S., such as the gradual shift toward legal same-sex marriage, with setbacks elsewhere. In some cases, the report suggests, these setbacks are not happening despite the victories in the U.S. but, in part, because of them. Anti-gay groups in the U.S. are spending their considerable resources to support their comrades in places where a critical mass of politicians supports their goals.

The "American hard-line religious right," reports the Southern Poverty Law Center, is now "on the losing side of a battle that it now seems incapable of winning. As a result, these groups and individuals have increasingly shifted their attention to other nations, where anti-gay attitudes are much stronger and violence against the LGBT community far too common.

" The best-known example is Uganda, where "U.S. religious ideologues have given aid and comfort to the authors of barbaric legislation." Less well known is Belize, the small Central American country where homosexuality is still punishable by 10 years in prison, and where gay people are officially not even allowed past the country's borders.

I lived in Belize as a teenager and I love the country deeply; my year there taught me a great deal. Unfortunately, Belize also taught me that a culture that enforces a "protective" code of modesty for women is a culture that condones sexual violence and harassment against women, that these two ideas are not opposites but in fact two expressions of the same idea. The obscene catcalls on the street and the soft-spoken advice to cover up and comport oneself in a ladylike manner are two ways of saying the same thing.

Of course, no culture is monolithic, and Belize has its forces of tolerance, too. But it is still quite conservative about gender and sexuality, which makes it fertile ground for U.S. groups looking to protect anti-sodomy laws where they still exist.

An activist named Caleb Orozco, and his United Belize Advocacy Movement, have been leading a constitutional challenge of the homosexuality law, in the face of death threats. They have support from organizations such as the International Commission of Jurists. On the other side, one of the leading figures is Scott Stirm, an evangelist pastor originally from Waco, Texas. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center report, the hardline evangelists in Belize are getting "legal and other advice" from U.S.-based groups. The report refers to a growing global alliance, on this issue at least, between fundamentalist Muslim and Christian groups.

So the battles in places like Belize and Uganda have become proxy wars, putting LGBT people at greater risk in those countries while they win recognition of their rights in Canada.

Russia is another place where state-sanctioned violent homophobia is on the rise, which creates a problem for countries that plan to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games next year. There is a long list of reasons why Russia should never have won its bid to host the Olympics under the Putin regime. Since it did, countries such as Canada must decide whether its gay athletes might be at risk. And even if they are not, even if foreigners are relatively safe within the Olympic bubble, how can our athletes go there and smile, wave and applaud? The war for gay rights is not yet won, not even in North America. And while its bloodiest battles are being fought elsewhere, all the battles are connected. Neutrality is an untenable position.

The Edmonton Journal


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