Belize ‘giving us a fighting chance’

On Sept 29, 2016 The Washington Blade reported: NEW YORK — The plaintiff in the lawsuit against Belize’s sodomy law remains hopeful his case will resonate throughout the English-speaking Caribbean.
“People are beginning to realize that it is possible to advance LGBT issues in the region,” Caleb Orozco told the Washington Blade during an interview at OutRight Action International’s offices in lower Manhattan on Sept. 21.
Orozco, who is a prominent LGBT rights activist in the Central American country that borders Mexico and Guatemala, and his group, the United Belize Advocacy Movement, filed a lawsuit against the colonial-era sodomy law in 2010. He spoke with the Blade less than six weeks after Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin of the Belize Supreme Court ruled the statute is unconstitutional.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
Donnya Piggott, director of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination, told the Blade last month that sodomy laws will tumble “like dominoes in the Caribbean” because of the Belize ruling. The government of Antigua and Barbuda told a local newspaper a court would likely find the country’s law that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct unconstitutional if were legally challenged.
“There’s a shift in political tone,” Orozco told the Blade.
Belize government to appeal portion of ruling
The Belizean government initially announced it would not appeal the ruling to the Caribbean Court of Justice, a regional court of which Belize is a part.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced earlier this month after a meeting with religious leaders that his government plans to appeal a portion of the ruling that says the definition of “sex” in the Belizean constitution includes sexual orientation. He also called for the creation of a so-called morality commission that would advise his administration on how to address policy concerns around the decision.
The commission would include religious leaders.
“It scared the hell out of us,” Orozco told the Blade. “We know that anything along those lines without our presence at the table usually means the formalization of the system of oppression that we already have in our country.”

Read more at: Belize ‘giving us a fighting chance’

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