Belize anti-sodomy penal code trial wraps-up its final day

By Cathy Kristofferson, May 10, 2013

8721511773_cb7a6e4109_hCourt opened for the fourth day in the Caleb Orozco v. The Attorney General of Belize trial challenging the constitutionality of the Section 53 anti-sodomy penal code trial.  The Churches continued their claim that social issues such as public morality and health do not belong before the court.  Once again they suggested that the Claimant needs to take his concerns to the legislature and also argued for a strict interpretation of the Belize Constitution, which has no explicit mention of sexual orientation.

The Churches went on to say that they do not believe “one bit” that Section 53 has a “chilling effect” on the gay community as claimed Orozco.  The Churches also noted that the stigma and social disapproval associated with homosexuality cannot be affected by the change requested in Section 53 (which change was noted as:  ‘has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal’).

The Churches claim that in the current Universal Periodic Review report of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) there is a recommendation to repeal Belize’s Section 53 via legislative action.

uniba_counselFollowing the Churches, the Claimant’s counsel Hamel-Smith took the floor exclaiming his amazement that a case so carefully prepared and presented by the Churches basically relies on procedural technicalities and not the facts of the case itself.   Hamel-Smith stated that it is the duty of of the court to determine the constitutionality of Section 53 and not the legislature as the Attorney General and the Churches suggest.

Hamel-Smith goes on to dispute the opposition’s claim that since the Claimant has not been arrested under Section 53 himself that it does not pose risk and harm to him and the gay community of Belize at large.

8722642762_3cdd8a3c16_zBelize’s Section 53 seems at odds with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966 and signed by Belize  on the 10th of  June 1996.

The ICCPR “commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial”.  The Claimant’s counsel points out once again that the opponents in this case – The Attorney General of Belize and the coalition of Churches – no longer wish to be bound by international treaties that they have signed on to but this is not possible.

We are told that the decision in this case will be announced in June on a date to be determined.

After Court Notes:

More details have been released about the vandalism at Caleb Orozco’s home,  reported to Belize Channel 7:

“Between 3 and 4 last night security arrangement were circling and they found some problems. Later on around 8:30 a.m while I was preparing to come to court they found the right side of my car door stripped. The upper part of the car door glass was broken – the back part of my car was open and later on I found out through a neighbor that the police had checked for a report that they were two masked guys that had jumped my iron gate to get into my yard while I was sleeping. I knew nothing of the men, I knew nothing of the police report until 8;30 this morning. I was asked to go make a formal report to the police station and I did that this morning and this has happened on top of a lot of Facebook threats. One person saying that this case could easily be dismissed if I die. It’s things like that that have been accumulating over the past few weeks.”

The reporter noted that “As he indicated, Orozco has received an increasing amount of hate mail since this case started on Tuesday. He sent us a few of them yesterday, and they are very vulgar and violent in nature. He travels to and from court everyday accompanied by two plain-clothed BDF Soldiers and one police officer”.

We will have more info on today’s final day of the trial over the weekend.

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