Belize: Supreme Court set to debate around decriminalisation of gay sex

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The Supreme Court in Belize will today begin to debate the country’s criminal code which outlaws same-sex sexual activity.

Under the Central American country’s code, gay citizens currently face a penalty of up to ten 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.”

The United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, is part of a constitutional challenge to overturn the ban on same-sex sexual activity.

UNIBAM Executive President Caleb Orozco spoke to PinkNews about the case in July 2012.

He said the country’s Anglican and Catholic Church, along with its government, had been “spewing out standard homophobic arguments, misrepresenting the facts of our case and using side issues as a strategy to confuse the general public.”

Mr Orosco has been called by opponents to the amendment of the code, a traitor, and the “Antichrist”. He has also been subject to homophobic violence, and anti-gay slurs.

The measure’s advocates have also been accused of pandering to a “foreign agenda”, and that changing the law would lead to the downfall of the country.

Attorney for Caleb Orozco, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, flatly refutes such allegations, saying: “First and foremost this case is about the constitutional rights of Caleb Orozco and the thousands of other LGBT persons in Belize.

“Further, this is not only a gay rights issue but rather a human rights issue. Just because Section 53 is presently only selectively applied to one vulnerable section of the population does not mean it could not be used against any person in Belize engaging in non-procreative sexual activity.”

The court hearing is set to last from 7 – 10 May. Advocates of the measure will be using the hashtag #UNIBAM to track its progress.

Belize’s lack of legal protections for its LGBT citizens was criticised by the US State Department in a 2011 human rights report.