Across the Atlantic: LGBT Advocacy in Belize and London
In January, 25 LGBT activists were in London for Advocacy Week with the help of The Kaleidoscope Trust, the secretariat for The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN). As Belize's only and oldest LGBT-led policy and advocacy organization, the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) has been engaged in policy and advocacy as a transnational and national strategy for over a decade. Our first attempt at building a transnational strategy started with the OAS LGBT Latin American and Caribbean Coalition in the Americas with the help of present Syngeria leaders. The Commonwealth Equality Network is another space to sharpen diplomatic skills.
TCEN members intuitively recognize the impact of colonial history, like the pain of the 1943 Bengal Famine or the torture and massacres of 1950s Kenya. As LGBT people, many of us continue to suffer the impact of homophobic colonial laws introduced to our countries by the British Empire, which we have come together as a network of Commonwealth LGBT activists to overcome. Nevertheless, times have changed and LGBT political engagement exists in a fragile power structure of courtesy and communication around the world. We recognize the importance of civility and smart engagement, which includes a history of national litigation, criminal code reforms, and using human rights mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review among a multi-layered transnational strategy as crucial to advancing change.