By Cathy Kristofferson, May 14, 2013
The dust has now settled a bit in Belize after last week’s whirlwind 4 day trial of the Caleb Orozco v. The Attorney General. The case challenged the constitutionality of Section 53, a law inherited from the colonial legal system, that criminalizes same gender sexual conduct in Belize.
The case brought an unprecedented amount of debate and media attention to the small country of just 300,000 residents. It also stirred up resentment of the gay community which led directly to a visible increase of threats and violence towards them including the reported vandalism of the Claimant’s home during the trial. Hopefully as well it brought some understanding of the facts of the case dispelling the much publicized propaganda of the opponents like their claim that without Section 53 children will be left at risk.
Now that the Claimants have had a chance to collect their thoughts they are giving some final thoughts as they wait for the Chief Justice to announce the decision due by the end of term, which is expected to be some time in July 2013.
Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, lead attorney for the Claimant, explained the thrust of his client’s case:
“The direct effect of Section 53 staying in force…is that he must make an intolerable choice, a choice that no citizen of this country ought to be forced to make: Does Mr. Orozco choose to live his life as a law abiding citizen of Belize, by suppressing his homosexuality…or on the other hand, does he abandon all hope of ever living as a law abiding citizen of this country, accepting his status as an ‘unapprehended criminal’? That…is what Section 53 demands of …each and everyone of a small, vulnerable and disadvantaged minorities and male homosexuals, citizens and residents of Belize.”
Caleb Orozco, who filed suit back in 2010, serves as Executive President of UNIBAM which provides health education and other services and seeks to safeguard the basic human rights of the LGBT community in Belize. His final thoughts on the trial:
“I am happy with the arguments we put forward in the case, and I am looking forward to things getting back to normal now.”
One of the most humorous facts publicized during the trial was lead critic Pastor Scott Stirm of the anti-LGBT group Belize Action’s claim that UniBAM was “bringing foreign attorneys from foreign homosexual organisations with huge foreign funding to impose their foreign values”. All this from Stirm who himself is a foreigner from Texas (USA) representing foreign U.S. Evangelicals imposing their foreign import homophobia which they tote with them everywhere.
We will be watching for word of the Chief Justice’s decision expected some time in July 2013.