First Lady of Belize Kim Simplis Barrow has spoken out against anti-gay activity in Belize.
Belize was one of the many countries celebrating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on 17 May.
At a ceremony at the House of Culture in Belize City, Barrow sent a special video message of support directly to the LGBT community.
Voicing her support for LGBT equality, she also denounced anti-gay activity in Belize.
‘The universal declaration of human rights gives us all the right to life, liberty and security of person. It speaks of a world that is free and equal,’ she said.
‘And yet, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to terrible violence. They are deprived of their most basic rights, most importantly, the right to security of person because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
‘Hate crimes and hate speech against the LGBT community continue to rear its ugly head. And we have seen cases in Belize where they have been physically attacked or subjected to insults without provocation.
‘I continue to assert that violence is never justified despite our differences. Just as we fight to end racism and gender inequalities we must also seek to end the practice of bullying others because they are different.
‘No-one deserves to the inhumane treatment that many LGBT person suffer. They are often in fear, not only for their physical safety, but for their lives and that is no way to live.’
Barrow’s comments are particularly prevalent as gay sex is currently illegal in Belize.
Any person found guilty of gay sexual activity can face up to 10 years in prison. In addition, gay people are prohibited from entering Belize.
Also speaking at the ceremony were Chargé d'Affaires Margaret Hawthorne from the USA embassy and Deputy British High Commissioner, Grace Chun.
Over a 150 people gathered to listen to a dozen speakers, say prayers and light candles.
The event was organized by a group of Belizean LGBT people from the IDAHOT 2014 Belize Committee and was sponsored by companies who oppose discrimination such as Heineken.