Clergy from two of Belize’s major denominations took different approaches to reports of violence and threats of violence received by Caleb Orozco, the LGBT rights activist who is challenging the nation’s sodomy law in court.
The Anglican bishop reiterated his support of the law, inherited from when Belize was part of the British Empire, that makes homosexual relations a crime. But he criticized those who perpetrate violence.
In contrast, a Roman Catholic priest quoted in The Guardian and on Channel 5 television suggested, without presenting any specific evidence whatsoever, that homosexuals were probably responsible for violence against Orozco, who is gay.
Anglican Bishop Phillip Wright said:
“We do not support any form of violence against persons of a homosexual orientation and we distance ourselves from any such action or tendency in the wider population. After all, the church has to find a way to bring people together and to encourage hatred and that form of bigotry really is not acceptable in our book at all.”
Catholic priest the Rev. Ian Taylor said:
“Globally it has been determined by states that violence against homosexuals is highest within the homosexual communities itself. First of all the victim syndrome that they tend to portray is actually within the community itself – they are aggressive against each other, and less from those who are considered heterosexual.”
Gay-rights activists in Belize dismissed Taylor’s allegation. Orozco’s attorney, Lisa Shoman said:
“There has been a visible increase of threats and violence against Mr Orozco and against all homosexuals in Belize. There are threats for killing, burning, shooting; you name it. It has to stop. We are all Belizeans. We can agree to disagree without getting violent about it.”
The Belize Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the nation’s sodomy law last week. A decision is expected within the next few months.
For more information, read the full article in The Guardian: “Belize gay rights campaigner is facing more death threats, says lawyer.”
- Activist Working To Overturn Sodomy Ban Receives Death Threats (thinkprogress.org)
- Catholic Church now supports sodomy laws? (76crimes.com)
Belize court coverage
Day 3: Defenders of Belize sodomy law (this article)