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UNIBAM Denounces Hate Crime in Belize

UNIBAM joins other concerned and disheartened members of our community in decrying the vicious, senseless and inhumane killing of young Joseph Sanchez which took place on Sunday, January 12, 2014, in the early morning. The Board of Directors, staff and members of UNIBAM reach out to his parents and family members with condolence and empathy. Even though many members did not know him personally, the entire advocacy movement shares the family’s confusion, anger, and grief.

As the leading agency for rights defence of sexual minorities such as transgendered individuals
UNIBAM denounces this vile act and calls for the most comprehensive investigation to send a clear message to the rest of society that in Belize we won’t tolerate this kind of hate crime.
UNIBAM further calls on all social partners/leaders, human rights activists, church leaders and other outraged Belizeans to join them in decrying this act and demanding justice.

This type of violent crime is more likely to occur in a society with established stigma against gays, lesbians and transgendered people. Laws that criminalize any part of the lives of these people help sustain this type of stigma. Joseph’s murder highlights the fact that we are obsessed with pre-ordained rules of public appearance. When there are no laws to protect or even acknowledge the existence of a subset of our population, this kind of crime can easily occur with little justice. The reality of transgender individuals is that they are often targets and are disproportionately affected by violence, often remaining invisible to the rest of the community.

UNIBAM asks the Belizean public to rethink its stand on the defence of basic human rights and to ask ourselves “When will the discrimination, stigma and now violence be too much?” The answer is that it is already too much and we must reclaim our sense of human dignity and tolerance that bind a society together. Let us refuse to allow this heinous crime to go silent.
Talk about it and how we don’t want to live in a Belize where someone can be murdered for the kind of clothes they wear. Let your family, friends and co workers know that you don’t agree with this murder and let our united voices send a clear message to our leaders to instill rights protection for all our citizens.

May he rest in peace and may his short life serve as a lesson to all of us to strengthen our resolve to be more tolerant and just.

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