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Clergy dispute death threats against Belize activist

Caleb Orozco of United Belize Advocacy Movement (Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)
Caleb Orozco is challenging the constitutionality of the Belize law against homosexual activity.(Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)

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.”

Belize court coverage

DAY 1

Dramatic scene: Challenge to Belize sodomy law under way
Belize challenge to anti-gay law, 140 characters at a time

DAY 2
Belize sodomy law on trial, Day 2

DAY 3
Day 3: Defenders of Belize sodomy law (this article)

DAY 4
Final arguments in Belize sodomy case

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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