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Belize Trans Colors’ Submission to the Universal Periodic Review on the Situation of Trans People in Belize

GATE provided technical support to Belize Trans Colors (BTC) submission to the 4th cycle of UPR for Belize. Find more about their challenges and what they recommended.

  • Published
  • 29 June 2023
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BTC is a local trans human rights organization formed in 2018. Their mission is to empower the Belize trans population by pursuing the protection of trans rights and a society built on respect for dignity, justice and equity for all.

Prejudice and social stigma remain a part of the daily experience of transgender persons in Belize. Socio-economic conditions of trans Belizeans are challenging, with only 52.8% of trans respondents having completed primary or pre-primary school, or a trade certificate. 41.6% report doing sex work to generate income.

The previous recommendations that the State accepted to adopt legislation and other measures to protect trans people from discrimination, violence and abuse, and ensure equality before the law, have not been implemented.

Regarding the protection of gender minorities:

The State makes no provision for trans people to gain legal gender recognition or provision to ensure that they have the option to change their gender marker in identification documents. This amplifies their vulnerability to poverty and community violence, lack of housing, limited access to education, and a lack of access to justice.

On Labour protection: 

Trans women report difficulty in getting or keeping jobs and experiencing rejection by employers. One case document revealed that based on community gossip alone, a trans woman was fired from a restaurant because her employer received a report from a customer that she was HIV positive. Also, while sex work is not technically illegal, section 4(ix) of the Summary Jurisdiction Act speaks of loitering for prostitution as a criminal offense.

Concerning Barriers to Movement:

BTC collected data showed that 63.8% of trans respondents reported being scared while walking in public, with 75% experiencing verbal harassment in the community. Also, governmental administrative delays and gossip, as well as harassment on bus transportation, were reported by trans people.

On Family support:

Trans Belizeans don’t feel respected in their households, and 59.7% reported that family members made discriminatory remarks because of who they are. Some also experienced intimate partner violence and had to leave their homes.

Regarding Access to Justice:

The Belize police have no enforceable internal policy to deal with trans victims of violence or as detainees. Investigations of violence remain unresolved in some cases of murder and murder attempt. Note that no segregated data exists on trans victims of hate crimes.

On Healthcare:

Community-led needs assessment has still not been produced for trans populations. Trans individuals were simply treated as part of the MSM population size estimate of 2018 without regard for the distinct sub-culture and self-perception of the trans population. The Ministry of Health has no policy to enable trans people to access hormone treatment. This is forcing trans people to put their health in danger and risking their lives to obtain treatment in other countries. Also, on HIV response, PREP, HIV testing, and health services packages do not reach trans populations.

In light of such situations, BTC recommendations to the fourth cycle of UPR included, but are not limited to:

  • The explicit adoption of gender identity as a protected characteristic in the Belize Constitution.
  • The adoption of anti-discrimination legislation to protect trans citizens from discrimination in access to housing, education, healthcare, employment and other spheres of life.
  • Removal of the mentioned section 4(ix) of the Summary Jurisdiction Act
  • Allow gender marker changes in State documents.
  • To develop a strong national transportation policy and a stronger passenger complaints mechanism that has zero tolerance for violence of any kind, including the one against trans people.
  • Revision of the Domestic Violence Act and Family and Children’s Act
  • To design and enforce a policy for police around the treatment of transgender detainees as well as individuals who are victims of violence.
  • To disaggregate data regarding hate crimes against trans individuals in the State crime observatory database.
  • To develop and integrate a trans health work plan into the State health strategic plans and budget allocations
  • To ensure the State develops a research and planning agenda that is informed by the LGBTI Index and SDG 16 and that is inclusive of the trans population.