On July 17th, 2016, the President of the Stann Creek Youth Council, Mr. Jamall Swaso, made a disturbing and homophobic post on social media. However if we are to consider the recent position taken by the elected officials at the Special Meeting for the National Youth Council, held at the Belmopan Convention Center on June 11th, 2016, then we can simply agree that his position is not one taken in isolation. To provide clarity about the issue being raised we provide the following re-cap: On June 11th 2016, the body of elected youth leaders voted overwhelmingly to remove the words Gender & Gender Equality from the National Youth Council’s guiding principles/constitution. The Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) is disappointed in the actions of elected members of the council and the recent homophobic statements made by Mr. Swaso. The YAM condemns all forms of discrimination particularly those based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. We hereby call on the responsible body to address the issue of the constitution for the National Youth Council to ensure equality and equity in all matters being carried out by the council.
While social media is a platform for people of all ages to express themselves, we would like to emphasize on the importance of social responsibility, especially when in a position where one represents the interest of others.
YAM is proud to be an equal opportunity youth group with representation of diverse young people across Belize and hereby offers to provide technical assistance for training in Comprehensive Sexuality Education, particularly sensitization on matters of Gender, Sex and Sexuality for the elected officials of the National Youth Council/District Councils. The statement by Mr. Swaso, though made independently could be seen as a collective position when taking into account the recent actions of the National Council at the special meeting June 11th 2016.
We call on our young people and our youth representatives to be accountable for their actions and be more mindful about the impact and the power that social media has.