Dear Prime Minister Barrow
Re: Independence Day message
Greetings to you, your Government and the people of Belize from The Silver Lining Foundation, an organisation born out of passion of young people of Trinidad & Tobago to highlight, promote and advocate the elimination of bullying and violence within the framework of sexual diversity.
We were extremely heartened to learn of your Independence Day message to the nation and the bold and noble stance taken on LGBT rights and freedoms. The youth population of Belize can be very proud of a Head of Government that has demonstrated open thinking and has embraced true diversity in all of its forms.
For us in Trinidad & Tobago, your statement is a promising signal of hope for LGBT persons that more and more Governments in the region will arrive at such a level of broad thinking, and all people regardless of sexual orientation, can live confidently with the promise of protection of civil liberties and rights.
While the Government of Trinidad and Tobago led by Prime Minister The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP, has demonstrated a keen interest in consensus building, governance by consultation and has made genuine strides towards embracing all forms of diversity, we in this country are not yet at that point.
It is my hope that your strong stance will be the catalyst for other Governments; the spark that will ignite a different form of debate on the rights of LGBT citizens to equality and protection under the law.
The Silver Lining Foundation, of which I am Chairman and Co-founder, was formed primarily to advocate greater attention from Government and Judicial authorities on bullying and violence within the framework of sexual diversity.
Over the course of our growth as a foundation, with more and more persons learning of our work, we are now at a point where we receive messages from LGBT youth every day. These messages lift the veil of shame and secrecy brought by physical and sexual abuse that stifles the free expression and growth of youth as young as 13 years of age. The issues are a stark and tragic reminder of the level of terror some of our youth bear with in their daily lives, from being beaten and thrown out of their homes by their parents, to assault by thugs on the streets, and also persecution in schools.
We have therefore made it our responsibility and mandate to eliminate these forms of abuse through public education and advocacy. However, as you have demonstrated, the responsibility is a shared one in which the State plays a significant role.
As we commend your stance, we also thank you for bringing hope with your position that LGBT people are just that, people! It is our hope that in the forthcoming meetings Caribbean Heads of Government, you will be able to encourage your fellow leaders to adopt this brave position, and demonstrate how important it is to look beyond ‘political cost’ in decisions that impact the lives of the people they govern.
May God bless you and all the people of Belize.
Jeremy Steffan Edwards