Joseph Sanchez is dead, but who am I? written by: Aria Lightfoot

… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.”  Moses

Joseph Sanchez  Murdered cross dresser teen

Joseph Sanchez
Murdered gay teen

Joseph Sanchez is dead but who am I?   Who am I must be the one universal question we have all asked ourselves while staring at the reflection in the mirror staring back at us, mimicking our moves and sending back signals to our brains. We have tacitly accepted the reflected image is actually who we see. Some scientist believe that we would not be able to recognize ourselves if we could actually see ourselves outside of a mirror or picture.   We see a face staring back at us and many times we are left with more questions than answers.  Am I pretty? Am I fat? Why is that flaw so prominent?  Who am I?

Many of us depend on the mirror to help us project the image we consider acceptable or want to share with the world.  Most of us would never leave the house without visiting the mirror for confirmation that we have portrayed the right image.  We take care in what we wear to fit into certain cliques, or professional groups; we look to the mirror to determine our ratio of sexiness or decency; sometimes we want to ensure we are emulating our heroes by copying his or her dress, or hair or make up; we sometimes want to seem intimidating; regal;  sometimes we want to look “fresh” or stand out; but most times we just want to fit in. The way we choose to dress many times gives a glimpse into who we want to be but not necessarily who we are. One thing for sure, we all inhibit some level of insecurity about the image staring back at us, maybe wishing we had the money, or DNA, or will power to change it.  And while the world can see the actual physical manifestation we ourselves cannot see because we can only see it through a mirror or picture;  the world is not privy to our feelings, or thoughts not projected in our physical appearance.

Joseph Sanchez was an 18 -year old gay teenager, barely legal and the same age as my son.  He loved to dance in the Belize Carnivals and did very well in that element. He reportedly preferred to dress in skirts and dresses rather than pants…but think for a minute… so do Scottish men, many men in the Middle East, Africa and India. Here we have a teenager, terrorized by some members of Belize society and then executed. Joseph’s family told the media that he quit school because of numerous death threats and the constant hate he endured. He must have been assaulted on many occasions and decided not to report it. He may have thought his attackers were just another bullying incident he had endured many times.  If being gay was a choice, who would choose to live under such constant threats, terror and judgment? Joseph was said to be mindful of where he went and who he affiliated with and yet he still was subjected to the brutality of a judgmental society gone berserk. Joseph was brutally murdered early Sunday morning January 12, 2014. A knife in his heart sealed his fate.

Growing up I was a tomboy. I loved playing sports. I personally hated dresses because it meant I could not run around and would have to sit properly or risk chastisement. I use to wear my brother’s t-shirts and shorts.  I just cannot imagine that anyone would want to kill me, beat me up or terrorize me because of what I chose to wear. Joseph, a teenager barely into adulthood, digressed from what Belize’s machismo “God fearing” society thought was appropriate dress code and now you hearing the proponents begin to rationalize his murder.  That is disturbing to me.  For those who think that this young man was seeking special rights, then you are clueless about freedom and rights and you have no respect for it.

Freedom does not only encompass your happiness. Let me repeat. Freedom is NOT ONLY ABOUT YOU. Living in a free society means that you will be subjected to images, beliefs, opinions, people and lifestyles you don’t agree with;  things and people you don’t like or support;  but in such a society, the same freedom allows you to equally  live your life as you see fit;  offer controversial and opposing opinions and ideas;  dress in a manner that expresses who you are;  pray as your personal faith dictates;  and be who you want to be,  free from any fear  or terror.  Joseph was never afforded such freedom. The people who chose to rationalize Joseph’s murder are  willing accomplices to his demise. Freedom is in serious peril when we are trapped in ideology.

Joseph Sanchez is today free from all the hate and anger. He is free from fear, he is free from judgment and he has left behind a society that has rationalized their own imprisonment.  There is never, ever a rationalization to kill someone because you disagree or dislike who he or she is.

The Bible thumpers, who continue to quote death verses, consider that God gave Moses ten simple commandments to follow.  Thou shalt not kill was one of the commandments. He did not say thou shalt not kill those I agree with or like. There was no caveat to the commandment. Thou shalt not kill was a commandment handed down by God himself. Yet the self appointed religious leaders and arbiters completely ignore a direct commandment of God and direct their followers to verses in the Bible interpreted by priests who themselves have blatantly ignored and rejected God’s commandment of thou shalt not kill and encouraged their followers to kill in the name of God.

I am completely disgusted with those people in our Belizean society who attempt to rationalize the murder of Joseph or the murder of anyone for that matter and especially those in the LGBT community.  How dare you use God as a foundation for your personal hate?  Joseph was just a kid. He was somebody’s child. He was a fellow citizen and human being and he deserved life and respect even when you disagreed with how he chose to express himself. We are on a slippery slope Belize when we rationalize murder of those we don’t like.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  When you have lost your empathy for human life, when you rationalize bad behavior, when you have selective morality- don’t be surprised when injustice meets you next.  We need to honor life and investigate death in such a manner to prove that we actually honor life.  We live in a diverse world and only people who believe in acts of genocide, dictatorships and totalitarianism reject the idea of diversity.

You are now at peace Joseph…let those who revel in your death feel the wrath of their own conscience … God please help us find our moral compass because we are lost sheep!

Special Rapporteur defends Caleb Orozco and demands action from GOB


We have the honour to address you in our capacity as Special Rapporteur on the  promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/251 and to Human Rights Council resolutions 16/4 and 16/5.
In this connection, we would like to bring to your Excellency’s Government’s  attention information we have received concerning the alleged attack against Mr. Caleb Orozco.  Mr.  Orozco  is  the  President  of the  United  Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), an organisation which works on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGTB) rights in Belize.

According to the information received:

On the afternoon of 8 February 2012, Mr. Caleb Orozco was attacked on George Street, Belize City. Allegedly, Mr. Orozco was first threatened by unidentified men shouting anti-gay slurs. According to reports, one of the men then threw a beer bottle at him, hitting him in the face. It is reported that Mr. Orozco suffered damaged teeth and bruising to the face as a result of the attack.

According to  the  information  received,  Mr.  Orozco  has  filed  a police report; however, it is reported that the police have not identified the perpetrators.
According to the information received, Mr. Orozco has frequently appeared in national media in relation to UNIBAM’s advocacy work to remove a provision of the  Criminal  Code that  allegedly criminalizes same-sex sexual  activity. Furthermore, it is reported that he has been portrayed in an extremely negative light in the media by individuals and organizations who oppose his work.

Concern is expressed that the alleged attack against Mr. Orozco may be directly related to his legitimate human rights work and his legitimate exercise of his right to  freedom  of expression, particularly his  advocacy for  LGBTI rights  in  Belize. Further concern is  expressed  for the  physical  and  psychological  integrity of Mr.  Orozco, particularly in  light  of the  negative portrayals  of Mr.  Orozco  which  have allegedly appeared in the media.

While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we wish to  remind your Excellency’s Government that Belize, as a State party to the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has a duty to guarantee equal protection before the law and to prohibit discrimination on any ground. The words “or any other grounds” in article 26 of the ICCPR have been interpreted to include sexual orientation. Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has found in numerous cases  that  discrimination  on  the  grounds  of  sexual  orientation  is  not  permitted  under  international human rights law.
We would  like to  refer  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  the  fundamental  principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that “everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the  protection  and  realization  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms at  the  national and international levels” and that “each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia,  by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the  social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to  ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice”.

With regard to article 7 of the Declaration on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has stated that the right to develop  and discuss new human rights ideas is enshrined in the Declaration on Human Rights  Defenders as an important provision for the ongoing development of human rights. This  includes the right to discuss and advocate for human rights ideas and principles that are not necessarily new but that, in some contexts, may be perceived as new or unpopular because they address issues that might challenge tradition and culture. In this connection, the  Special  Rapporteur has  encouraged  States  to  do  the  necessary to  guarantee the principle of pluralism and recognize the right of defenders to promote and advocate for  new human rights ideas or ideas that are perceived as new. She has further encouraged States to take additional measures to ensure the protection of defenders who are at greater risk of facing certain forms of violence and discrimination because they are perceived as  challenging accepted  sociocultural  norms,  traditions,  perceptions  and  stereotypes,  including about sexual orientation and gender identity.

We would also like to recall resolution 17/19 of the Human Rights Council, where the Council expressed grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the  world,  committed  against individuals  because of their  sexual  orientation  and  gender identity.

Furthermore, article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration which provide that the  State shall  take all necessary measures  to  ensure the  protection  by the  competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats,  retaliation,  de facto  or de jure adverse discrimination,  pressure or any other  arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association  with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts  of violence perpetrated  by groups  or individuals  that  affect the  enjoyment  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms. In  this  regard,  the  Inter-American  Commission  on Human Rights (IACHR) has granted precautionary measures for LGBTI human rights  defenders in cases where they are faced with substantial threats to their physical and  psychological integrity, as provided for under article 25 of the rules of procedure of the  IACHR.

We would  also  like to appeal  to  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles as set forth in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom  of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the  form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
In addition, we would like to call the attention of your Excellency’s Government to General Comment no. 34 of the Human Rights Committee, which urges States to “put  in place effective measures to protect against attacks aimed at silencing those exercising  their right to freedom of expression”; stresses that under no circumstance “can an attack on a person, because of the exercise of his or her freedom of opinion or expression,  including such forms of attack as arbitrary arrest, torture, threats to life and killing, be compatible with article 19” of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and affirms that “[a]ll such attacks should be vigorously investigated in a timely fashion,  and  the  perpetrators  prosecuted, and  the  victims,  or,  in the  case of killings,  their representatives, be in receipt of appropriate forms of redress”.

We urge your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary measures  to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of the above mentioned person are respected and, in  the  event  that  your  investigations  support  or suggest  the  above allegations  to  be correct, the accountability of any person responsible of the alleged violations should be ensured. We also request that your Excellency’s Government adopt effective measures to  prevent the recurrence of these acts.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial  steps  taken  by your Excellency’s Government  to  safeguard  the  rights  of the  abovementioned person in compliance with the above international instruments.
Moreover,  it is  our  responsibility under  the  mandates  provided  to  us  by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters, when relevant to the case under consideration:

1. Are the facts alleged in the summary of the case accurate?
2. Has a complaint been lodged by or on behalf of the alleged victim?
3. Please provide the  details,  and  where available  the  results,  of  any investigation, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no  inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. Please provide  the  full  details  of any prosecutions  which  have been undertaken. Have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?
5. Please indicate what protective measures have been or will be taken to protect the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Caleb Orozco, in order to ensure that he can exercise his legitimate activities in defence of human rights.

We undertake to ensure that your Excellency’s Government’s response to each of these questions is accurately reflected in the report we will submit to the Human Rights Council for its consideration.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of  opinion and expression

Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Gay Rights Activist Physically Attacked

The dichotomy of the Legal Advocate and the Party Faithful by: Aria Lightfoot

“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time…”
Pablo Picasso

The election season should be over in Belize; however, the Opposition feels slighted and has taken on a mandate to contest every conceivable angle available to them. I see both ridiculous and possibly legitimate challenges. The online forums that once promoted legal and political thought, advocacy, discussions, suggestions and challenges have taken a turn for the worse. Enter those forums now at your own risk; remember to put on your thick skins as the discussions have moved from issues to personal attacks. Party advocates are in no mood for logic, discussions or challenges.  Instead of addressing the issues, it has become a “bush doctor” psychological and accusatory evaluation of your position and if and when all else fails;  some good ole finger pointing, get out of here approach with a good mix of insults. I have deemed it the “bitch and whine club” (excuse the profanity). The opposition has literally hijacked certain social media forums and put out the “you are not welcome mat if you have differing opinions” approaches and tactics. . Their agenda is now set to promote their court cases through social media. They have no patience for discussion. Social media has become the battleground for free advertisements and agenda promotion.  A few people have confided in me that they now avoid certain sites because they have become attack sites for differing opinions. With that said, there were many issues that played out in the elections of 2012.  There were mistakes made by both parties and both expected to win. Every dirty trick was pulled out of the hat and only one winner prevailed. C’est la vie! Such is life! Be the change in the system;  but crying foul after engaging is the same behavior is  hypocritical!  I feel all the advocacy to promote party agenda disguised as social advocacy leads me to the following thinking.

Many times I have questioned the possibility for anyone, especially attorneys, to advocate positions which are contradictory to their party positions, and their personal belief systems. It suggests to me that having contradictory positions is having no position at all;  rather the person takes on a position based on public opinion, party trends or paid advocacy.  Such a clinical approach to advocacy forces me to make an observation that I think will manifest itself eventually.

I have much respect, unbeknownst to her, for one feisty legal advocate and party faithful. Her tenacity and ability to argue positions, even if it differed from previous positions just a month prior amazes me. And I am in no way being cynical.  She is the true legal advocate. She can argue from any position. She has proven her legal abilities to win hearts even if she loses court cases. However, I feel that her dual roles will eventually catch up with her.  The church agenda is popular in Belize and especially Belize City. I wonder how much the issue of gay rights played out in voting patterns. Everyone made an assumption that the elections was bought without ever conducting the necessary ‘after election’ poll to garner voter thinking.  A good friend of mine from a traditional PUP family and avid Catholic, refused to vote PUP because of the UNIBAM issue. She said it was the first time her family voted UDP because they saw the issue as of utmost importance to save Belize.  I tried to reason with her logic but religion is a powerful brainwashing tool.  I anticipate that my “friend’ the legal advocate and party faithful will be forced to make a choice very soon.  I sense these barrage of legal challenges signal political aspirations. If she has political aspirations, she will have to take a position on the issue. She will have to decide whether to advocate from the heart or to follow the drum of the party.  Both parties have distanced themselves from the unpopular issue. Some members of both parties have come out strongly against the UNIBAM position and no party wants one of their prominent members being a part of it.  So here lies the dichotomy of the legal advocate and party faithful.  How can you promote an unpopular position that your party prefers to distance itself from; how can you contest elected office on an unpopular issue and how can you continue to advocate from the heart?    Whose heart will be broken?

Daily Dingleberry 02-06-12

Freddie Mercury of QUEEN

I wonder how many people think about the fact that when they are at a game where male hormones and sweat create an oppressive sweet stink, the song that riles them up the most was written by a GAY man?

Yes. It is true. “We Are The Champions” was written by Freddie Mercury, the head queen of the band QUEEN. The song was on the “A” side of one of dem itty bitty 45’s with, guess what on the other side? “We Will Rock You” was written by  QUEEN’s lead guitarist Brian May.

So, if you want to be a true homophobe, make sure you don’t caught shaking your fists and wiggling your ass to either of these songs, ok???? We, the rest of the logical thinking, tolerant lovers of all people and our differences world, would like it if you would identify your ignorant, fear and hate mongering self, by raising your voice in singular protest and walking out of whatever arena you are in. We would really not like to add “hypocrite” to the list of adjectives we use to describe people like you. If you find yourself unable to do so, then you will have to face the realization that you just might secretly like gay people and you will have to drop the whole “I hate all fags and you are going to hell” thing. Are you swallowing hard just about now? It’s that crow you’re eating.

Promote love and acceptance for all, people. Support your GBLT community and call people out when you see them being hateful. Gays are human beings with feelings and gifts and love to spread just like you and I. Respect their right to decency and dignity. CHANGE THE LAWS THAT OPPRESS YOUR FELLOW MAN. If you believe in god, you should already know not to judge…ooooh…YOU might be the one going to hell…