Top court in Belize overturns sodomy law

Unibam leader Caleb Orozco.
Belize activist Caleb Orozco

The Supreme Court in the Central American country of Belize today overturned the country’s sodomy law, issuing a long-delayed ruling on a constitutional challenge brought by  LGBT rights activist Caleb Orozco, and his United Belize Action Movement (Unibam).

BuzzFeed reported, based on a Twitter post by Unibam:

The Belize Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a law punishing homosexuality was unconstitutional.

The decision was announced on the LGBT rights group Unibam’s Twitter account soon after the ruling was made. Unibam first brought the challenge against the law back in 2010.

Belize, a country of around 350,000 people on the Caribbean coast neighboring Mexico and Guatemala, has had the law in place since its days as a British colony. LGBT advocates are hopeful that the ruling could bolster efforts to eliminate similar laws in 10 other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, which also have roots in their colonial past.

The written judgement in the case was not immediately available. …

Speaking before the ruling on Belize’s homosexuality law was issued, [Jamaican LGBTI rights advocate Maurice] Tomlinson told BuzzFeed News that a decision to strike down the provision could be “highly persuasive” to courts in other Caribbean nations where similar suits could be filed, and “the reasoning would be very important for my ongoing challenge to the Jamaican anti-sodomy law.”

After the court ruling was announced, Orozco wrote on Twitter:

“We won on all counts. Speechless. Omg. Speechless”

And then:

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High Court Justice Esco Henry of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The chief justice of Belize. Kenneth Benjamin have found that section 53 of the criminal code is unconstitutional and must be struck down.”

And then:

“He said sex extended to sexual orientation in our constitution, amplifying our rights.”

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