History-making queer activist Caleb Orozco gives a rousing reminder that ‘giving up is not an option’ when it comes to LGBT+ rights

Caleb Orozco

In 2016, after a long fight from LGBT+ activists, gay sex was finally made legal in the Central American country of Belize.

That change would never have happened without the tireless campaigning of Caleb Orozco. As executive director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), Orozco filed a case with the country’s Supreme Court in 2010 arguing that the country’s anti-sodomy law was unconstitutional.

And so, six years later, the ban was overturned by the court – but the fight for LGBT+ rights and equality is far from over.

Orozco reflected on the struggle for LGBT+ rights in Belize during a panel discussion for PinkNews’ Pride for All, a four-day long digital extravaganza, which runs until June 7.

Speaking ahead of the panel discussion, Orozco reflects on the discrimination he has faced throughout his life in Belize. In one incident, he had a bottle thrown at his head by a neighbour.

“You have a right to your belief, but you do not have a right to use that belief to deny me protection, nor do you have a right to harm me because of that belief,” Orozco says.

Giving up is not an option. Accepting limitation is not an option.

“As citizens, we must demand the same protection and not be begging for what is already due to us. Period.”

While the decriminalisation of homosexuality was a vital step, it wasn’t the end of the road. Orozco notes that many LGBT+ people continue to face discrimination in a variety of ways, including from their families.

“The truth is the state does not collect any data on discrimination, and so because the data is invisible the state can dismiss the concerns of LGBT persons right away.

“Giving up is not an option. Accepting limitation is not an option.”

He adds: “When a trans woman steps out on a particular day, she is insulted and threatened, and she spends that day dealing with that, goes right back into her house, wakes up the next morning and does the exact same thing again.

“We have a long history of resistance. We have always been smart enough to navigate difficult environments. We may have to lie about who we are but it does not necessarily mean we don’t create the temporary spaces to be our authentic selves.”