Belize City, Belize – An 18 year-old transgender woman was attacked with stones and beaten by a mob on Tuesday evening in Belize City. The incident happened just after 6 pm.
The young woman identifying as Vanessa Champagne Paris reported she was verbally attacked when a man spotted and shouted at her “why is a f*king faggot is walking this block.”
After she responded to her attacker, saying that he did not own the street, she said he hurled broken pieces of cement at her as she attempted to flee.
The man, according to her account, then alerted other four men shouting at them that there is a “f*king battyman wearing a dress.”
The five men chased and caught up with her, with one punching her in the face while another punched across her body.
She eventually managed to escape into the safety of local a drug store when and police was summoned.
After being rescued by the police and led to safety, Vanessa has since found a “safe” house where she will be staying for the time being until a more permanent arrangement can be worked out.
“I am a transvestite. So I decide to live my life as a female,” she told journalist Patrick Jones.
“Everyone can mind their own business, or at least they should. I do not interfere with anyone,” she explained.
Belize has one of the most severe anti-LGBT laws in the Americas, Section 53 of its Criminal Code imposes up to 10 imprisonment for same-sex acts.
The United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), the country’s only LGBT advocacy organization, reports that people suffer continuous harassment, insults by the general public and police due to their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
UNIBAM has also mounted a legal campaign both locally and internationally to repeal Section 53.
However, powerful local Christian groups, including the Belize Anglican and Catholic Churches, along with US and international Christian groups are campaigning to keep Section 53 and have been also accused of spreading anti-LGBT hate.
Caleb Orozco, director of UNIBAM made a presentation about the state of affairs of LGBT people in Belize to the Inter-American Commission on Humans Rights (IACHR).
As a result IACHR stated it expected that Belize will ensure the safety of all LGBT citizens and stated asked what steps it will take to do so.
Orzoco is now planning a further presentation regarding Vanessa’s case to IACHR.
He told me: “Section 53 has become the basis to deny the reality of hate speech and crime in Belize, and exclude rights and legal protection for LGBT citizens of Belize.
Leading human rights attorney, and Belize Senator, Lisa M. Shoman commented on the case: “This incident is precisely the reason why it was necessary for UNIBAM to make a presentation to the IACHR on the state of human rights violations against LGBT individuals in Belize.
“We cannot simultaneously claim to be a democratic nation that is founded on ‘dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator’ and be a place where this happens.”
In January 2014 a gay man was attacked and stabbed to death in Belize City.
Source – The Huffington PostThe