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Will Belize decriminalize homosexuality?

Under Belize’s Criminal Code, gays face a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Section 53 states: “Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

Who is challenging the law?

Caleb Orozco is the lead claimant in the case against the Attorney General and the government along with other interested parties opposed to the criminalisation of homosexuality in Belize: the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the International Commission of Jurists and the Human Dignity Trust.

Orozco says: “The case was initiated by the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project, UWRAP, in 2007 in Santa Domingo. There were two countries picked by UWRAP, Guyana and Belize and it was felt Belize had a more liberal constitution based on its privacy law.”

The Human Dignity Trust, based in London, is a human rights organization which aims to see local laws criminalizing homosexuality brought into line with international human rights obligations, providing support and services at UNIBAM’s invitation.

Who is defending it?

Along with the government, Orozco says the Catholic and Anglican Church are the other interested parties in the case who support the government’s defense of the law.

Another organisation, Belize Action is “the watchdog, if you will, of the churches.”

He says: “They have been spewing out standard homophobic arguments, misrepresenting the facts of our case and using side issues as a strategy to confuse the general public. Like going after the children, saying we’re seeking to promote homosexual acts in schools, we’re seeking to lower the age of consent, and saying homosexuality is a choice.”

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