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Belize fundamentalists hope to appeal sodomy ruling

Anti-LGBT advocates formed a prayer circle seeking a Belize Supreme Court ruling in favor of the country's anti-sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of the Belize Prayer Network)
Anti-LGBT advocates formed a prayer circle seeking — unsuccessfully — a Belize Supreme Court ruling in favor of the country’s anti-sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of the Belize Prayer Network)

In the Belize court system, the last word hasn’t yet arrived regarding the Aug. 10 victory by LGBT rights activist Caleb Orozco, who, with support from his United Belize Advocacy Movement (Unibam), successfully challenged the country’s anti-sodomy law.

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled that the sodomy provisions of Section 53 of the criminal code were unconstitutional.

That decision can be appealed, but no appeal has yet been filed.

The government of Belize decided not to appeal. Anti-gay fundamentalist Christians hope to do so, however.

If they decide to, they would need to overcome both legal and financial obstacles.

Churches would have to prove that they have legal standing to file an appeal, Orozco noted. He is optimistic that they would not be able to do so, since even Unibam was unable to establish its standing to challenge Section 53 in the original lawsuit.

Caleb Orozco, claimant and leader of United Belize Advocacy Movement
Caleb Orozco, leader of the United Belize Advocacy Movement

It’s “a difficult thing,” he said. “The violation has to be in direct relation to [the organization]. The church has to prove it can have sex. For me, on that basis, the court struck out Unibam as co-claimant in the beginning of my case, so what’s good for Unibam is good for the churches.”

“It’s at the court’s discretion. We shall see in time,” Orozco added.

In addition, “the fundamentalists are saying they don’t have the money to pursue an appeal,” he said.

However, Orozco added, “Extremism is alive and well” in Belize. As an example, he cited the fundamentalist website of the Belize Prayer Network, which called Benjamin’s decision an “unjust ruling” that opened a legal door to “the spirit of sodomy.” Regarding LGBTI rights activists, that fundamentalist network says:

“They intend to redefine sex and gender in Belizean schoolbooks. In effect they intend to rewrite Genesis One, to say God created them in His own image to be LGBTQI and to be fruitful and multiply. Except that, since they can’t procreate, they would multiply bad fruit by corrupting other people’s children.”

Orozco, in the meantime, is “preparing for round two. The battle continues.”

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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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