My photo
Kingston, Jamaica

Friday, May 10, 2013

Belize Sodomy Law: Caleb Orozco vs the Government

                                                                                Caleb Orozco Interview with Dwayne Brown (2011)

Belize's Supreme Court, for the past three days, carried out hearings on whether or not to strike down a law criminalizing gay sex.

Section 53 of Belize’s Constitution states: “Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

The plaintiff in this case (Caleb Orozco) seeks a judicial repeal of the Law which violates his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

Along with the government, the Catholic and Anglican Church as well as other interested parties in the case supports the government’s defence of the law.

Orozco, 39, president of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) is openly gay. Base on several credible media reports, he has repeatedly received death threats and in February 2012, he suffered a violent physical assault that required extensive dental surgery.

In an interview on the 15th of August 2011, Orozo urged the government of Belize and Council of Churches to:

1.      “ Not let biblical language replace the constitutions in individual countries;”
2.      “ Remember that the constitution is arbitrated to individual countries, not the Bible;”
3.      “Enforce the rights of lgbt citizen’s population which exist within the country.”

In a direct appeal to the court justices and politicians, he further stated that “the issue sexual minority groups are concerned with is fear treatment, not fearful treatment. If you can do that there should not be a problem. In fact, you were elected to serve all people, not just some people.”

Undoubtedly, anti-gay laws, such as section (53) of Belize’s constitution foster the perpetuation of hate and violence towards homosexuals. Similarly, we have seen such manifestation hate towards gay and lesbian Jamaicans, attributable to the existence of sections 76, 77 & 79, in Jamaica’s
Offences Against the Person Act (1864).

According to UNIBAM report (2009) on homophobia in Belize, “the state indifference and reluctance to address the issue of homophobia head on is what sustains prevailing cultural attitudes in the country. Laws on the books not only remains unequal, it prevent the recognition of the gender identity change for transgender persons and does not protect a person from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These are just examples of sustained discrimination by the state.”

On the third day of hearing, Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, representing the government argued that “there is no fundamental right to dignity or privacy in Belize and it is the right of Belize as a sovereign nation to keep Section 53 on the books as long as the people the people want.” On the contrary, Belize’s constitution offers equal protection and rights to privacy to all of its citizens regardless of one’s sex, gender, race, color or creed.