The First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis-Barrow

The First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis-Barrow, has expressed her support for the country’s LGBTI community.

Simplis-Barrow, who is also the Special Envoy for Children and Women, made the statement in a video message played at a ceremony at the House of Culture in Belize City to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on Saturday.

“The universal declaration of human rights gives us all the right to life, liberty and security of person. It speaks of a world that is free and equal,” she said.

“And yet, lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender persons continue to be subjected to terrible violence. They are deprived of their most basic rights, most importantly, the right to security of person because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Hate crimes and hate speech against the LGBT community continue to rear its ugly head. And we have seen cases in Belize where they have been physically attacked or subjected to insults without provocation.

“I continue to assert that violence is never justified despite our differences. Just as we fight to end racism and gender inequalities we must also seek to end the practice of bullying others because they are different.

“No-one deserves the inhumane treatment that many LGBT persons suffer. They are often in fear, not only for their physical safety, but for their lives – and that is no way to live,” said Simplis-Barrow.

Her message was somewhat ironic in that the Central American and Caribbean nation is one of 81 countries in the world that still criminalise same-sex relationships.

According to Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code, “Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person … shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years.”

Additionally, under Section 5(1) of the country’s Immigration Act, gays and lesbians are declared “prohibited immigrants” and are not allowed to enter Belize.

In the video, Simplis-Barrow never addressed the contradiction between her statements and these anti-gay laws.

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