Asa DeMatteo, a clinical psychologist living with his same-sex spouse in San Francisco, is blogging from the courtroom in Belize where the constitutional challenge to Section 53, the Belize anti-sodomy law, is taking place. His first dispatches via Tumblr appeared on this blog as “Dramatic scene: Challenge to Belize sodomy law under way.”
The challenge was brought by Caleb Orozco, leader of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (Unibam). Toward the end of DeMatteo’s morning coverage, his battery was running low. With a new battery or by switching devices perhaps, he continued on Twitter. These are some of those updates:
The #unibam [United Belize Advocacy Movement] advocate apologizes for taking so much time. There was not one iota of dross in his presentation.
The Belizean constitution is clear and unambiguous in its statement of the fundamental rights to lead life as you choose.
There is a sense in which the defendants find abhorrent any foreign voices for justice as the world sees it.
He is talking about the interested parties (the church), not the attorney general.
There goes judicial robe again, falling off this magnificent advocate’s shoulders because he doesn’t notice in his passion.
Belize is not so small and insecure that it can’t tolerating hearing the voices from around the Caribbean and world.
Afternoon session begins
The afternoon session of day one begins with the UNIBAM advocate continuing.
My tweets are summations of points made by each side. Interesting: not all discrimination is illegal or wrong.
If the government wants to discriminate, it must specify and justify the basis of that discrimination.
“[S53] treats my client exactly the same as if he committed rape or bestiality.”
What is this crime?
“What is this crime ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature?”
There is no common understanding in the law what precisely constitutes “against the order of nature.” Law must be specific.
The law does not specify anal intercourse alone, but any “intercourse against the order of nature.”
Potentially outlawed is anything other than sexual congress of a phallus inserted into a vagina.
The law has been recognized by various courts as limiting AT LEAST anal intercourse between either men or a man and woman.
The [missing word] has recognized more than just sodomy as “against the order of nature.” Oral sex, masturbation, etc. No limits.
How has the law been applied?
Justice asks for actual application of S53 in Belize. Not one homosexual has been prosecuted under S53 for consensual sex.
Advocate says that the threat of prosecution remains whether accomplished or not.
Quoting the defendant side “Ask them [plaintiff] where those rights come from” Answer: the constitution.
Rights come from the constitution’s commitment to the supremacy of God, we accept that. Just not only from the Christian God
Advocate quoted common law where sodomy between two men was distinguished from sodomy between men and women RISKY for S53.
All minorities and all people of lower status are demeaned by such laws that discriminate.
It is not allowed to inject Christian morality into secular law unless they overlap with independent government interest.
What the constitution requires is laws that respects privacy and the dignity of ALL citizens.
What you will hear tomorrow from the other side is a different world view. The court will have to decide.
Will the court recognize the diversity of today’s Belize or adhere to a much more rigid demand for homogeneity and sameness?
AND we’re done for the day. More later.
Belize court coverage so far:
- Today: Court challenge to Belize anti-gay law (76crimes.com)
- Opening Arguments in Belize Urge Supreme Court to Uphold the Constitution (O-blog-dee blog)
- Belize Action — worse than Westboro Baptist Church (Brent Toombs on 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay law bars father from son’s spelling bee in Belize (76crimes.com)
- Belize gay rights activist in court battle to end homophobic colonial-era laws (guardian.co.uk)
- Archive of this blog’s articles about Belize