Challenge to the Belize’s Sodomy Law enters second day

vlcsnap-2013-05-08-20h30m21s228The second day of the trial between Caleb Orozco, figurehead of the movement to decriminalize sodomy, and the Government of Belize began in the Supreme Court this morning with concluding arguments from Trinidadian Queen’s Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith. He went through various reports looking at the impact of HIV on the gay community, stating that public health is more important than public morality. Speaking to Nicole Haylock, an expert in criminal justice, then-Assistant Commissioner of Police and head of Eastern Division, Belize City, Elodio Aragon Jr., claimed that it is not in police vlcsnap-2013-05-08-20h31m21s77culture to target homosexuals under Section 53. A total of 43 cases, majority involving males were brought for unnatural crime between 1997 and 2008, but not against consenting adults. Nonetheless, Hamel-Smith insisted that the fear of prosecution causes gay Belizeans to be unwilling to go to the police to report domestic abuse or get treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.  Lord Peter Goldsmith QC began his submissions on behalf of interested parties the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Human Dignity Trust and International Community of Jurists, all proponents of sexual orientation as a human right. Because the words “sexual orientation” are not in Belize’s constitution, the lawyer asked the judge to interpret the word “sex”, vlcsnap-2013-05-07-20h38m02s196which is usually understood to mean male or female, as “sexual orientation”. According to Goldsmith, there is a parade of nations and organizations that have recognized and decriminalized homosexuality and anti-sodomy laws with no effect on the population. He cited the UK as an excellent example. He added that Belize subscribes to various human rights conventions and that international courts have established that a “majority” view, such as that expressed in a referendum, would still lead to lack of protection of “minorities” such as LGBT.  The case continues all this week.

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