Belize: Attorney General wraps up in sodomy law Supreme Court case

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Attorney General wrapped up in the case challenging Belize’s anti-sodomy law, during which the Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys pushing for the country to remove the law, citing its unconstitutionality.

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, in the case of Caleb Orozco v the Attorney General of Belize.

Advocates in the case of Orozco v the Attorney General of Belize returned to work this week, as the Supreme Court concluded the hearings on 10 May. The trial was seen as historic, and attracted global media attention.

During the proceedings the legal team acting for the claimant continually argued that the law violated several fundamental rights protected by the Constitution of Belize, including the right to human dignity, privacy, equality and nondiscrimination.

The closing arguments were followed by submissions from Lord Goldsmith, an attorney representing three law-related organisations who have intervened in the case, in support of the claimants.

Lord Goldsmith examined the issue from a global perspective, noting the fact that many Commonwealth and other countries have decriminalised same-sex sexual activity, including India, Armenia, the Balkans, New Zealand and Azerbaijan.

Defendants arguing for the Attorney General’s Ministry and the Church interested parties, had argued that Orozco’s rights were not violated and that the Supreme Court should withhold judgement and defer to the legislature, the question of whether to repeal the law.

“I am happy with the arguments we put forward in the case,” said Orozco, who filed the lawsuit back in 2010. “And I am looking forward to things getting back to normal now,” he continued.

Arguments concluded at the end of last week, and the Chief Justice announced that a decision in the case is expected to be handed down by the end of term, some time before the end of July 2013.