US Hoists Rainbow Flag - 06/22/17 12:16 PM
One year ago, the US Embassy in Belmopan raised the Rainbow or Gay Pride flag on the Embassy Compound. At the time, there was a great big uproar and outrage by the Christian right and many regular folks who felt it offended Belizean cultural norms. Today, one year later - in observance of Gay Pride Month, the Embassy did the same - and it barely even made a blip on the radar screen of current affairs. Now, you can view that either as a sign of progress towards tolerance, or a general state of apathy, but to hear Caleb Orozco tell it, it's a step forward. Here's our report on today's event:â€¦
Once again, the rainbow flag proudly flies above the US Embassy in Belmopan.
Adrienne Galanek - U.S. ChargÃ© d'Affaires,
"The flag will be proudly flown at the embassy until the end of June."
Caleb Orozco - LBGTI Activist
"The flag reminds us that we need to be visible and work for our freedom."
While last year church leaders prayed outside, they didn't do so this year - giving gay rights activist Caleb Orozco free reign for a victory lap:
"Last year's supreme court ruling overturning section 53 was a milestone moment for the LGBTI community in Belize and for Belize. We have a hero in our mist Mr. Caleb Orozco and I would like to recognize him."
"The labels on me are changing to I dare say the word respectable. On the street respect is the last thing I have."
But the streets have nothing to do with this swath of US soil, where Orozco is a human rights champion:
"When I speak, I speak about those people who have no protection and if they are seriously ill they will have no support because we don't exist in legislation."
And the US is not so subtly bringing pressure on government to create such legislation:
"The United States encourages governments around the world to decriminalize consensual same sex conduct."
Hon. Valerie Woods - PUP Senator
"But the farce of signing unto these conventions particulate the human rights conventions and to actively, demonstratively not promote human rights, it needs to stop."
And the presence of PUP Senator Valerie Woods wants to suggest that a PUP government would:
Hon. Valerie Woods
"I also stand my ground on LBGTI rights, I made the statement on the announcement of the ruling - I was disappointed that no member of government is here. LBGTI rights is not asking for any special rights, it's asking to recognize people. I see Caleb, I recognize his value to us as a person, if we can't do that as a society, we've failed miserably."
"Are your words representative of the party you represent? If they are elected come the next election would they support what you are saying?"
Hon. Valerie Woods
"I certainly hope so, I've been very vocal inside the party and the party leader, the Hon. John Briceno has made on many occasion the statement that the party is the party of inclusion."
And that will be put to the test as Orozco now seeks to memorialize the day the judgement was handed down:
"What we've seen is a community organize itself into the idea that August 10th is a historical part of history and we seeking to organize a pride week for that week."