I wish I could say that being an LGBT individual was a walk on a golden brick road. However, being LGBT in Belize is comparable to climbing Doyle’s Delight with 150 pounds on your back. At the base of the mountain of equality, LGBT individuals are burdened with the weight of stigma, discrimination, and fear- of being outted, humiliating your family, and losing your life. Recently, the courts declared that Section 53 of the Criminal Code of Belize violated several fundamental human rights for the LGBT population. Despite this victory, we keep trekking uphill.
We sweat, we cry, we yearn for nourishment as we stand against the winds of oppression cast on us by our families, friends, colleagues, classmates and government. Every time we fall, we look for someone to motivate us, to remind us that there will be fresh air at the top of this mountain. There is a ray of hope, a promised sunshine. But for now, we are alone on this journey to equality.
We watch as people who have been on this path before have given up, because the winds of oppression have become so strong. They have scars and bruises, but they decided – “this journey asks for too much sacrifice”. We watch those on this mountain who have lost partners and have never gotten the opportunity to attend their funerals because legally they were just ‘roommates’. We keep trekking. We watch those who have lost their jobs and all they have worked for because of malicious stories around their sexualities and being compared to pedophiles. We keep digging in. We watch the lovers who want to have a family but are worried that their child might not be strong enough to withstand the rains of bullying.
I wish I could tell you exactly what is at the top of this mountain….but it’s a journey we are all still taking. In Belize, LGBT persons have yet to be able to depend on the government to protect them. We are tax paying citizens, but still considered an abomination and disgrace.
“Our laws do not protect us, but have tried to imprison us for our love.”
We aren’t sitting anymore. We aren’t turning back to the bottom of this hill. Our journey has been a long one, and it continues.We are becoming more and more creative in demanding our inclusion. Instead of oppression and exclusion knocking us down, it has made us evolve – evolve into a stronger and firmer network, where we no longer need to walk alone. Those who grew tired of fighting alone can now look around and find support.
In Belize, oppression remains through our outdated laws and lack of governmental support; however, we have created our own path and our own journey. One day, we will be united on top of this mountain called equality, looking down at the journey we made and appreciating the struggles. The journey continues, and we are more determined than ever to keep MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER!
Derricia is one of our partners that will be attending OutSummit on December 10, 2016.
Published on November 14, 2016 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization