The case of Caleb Orozco versus the Attorney General of Belize on the constitutionality of Belize’s sodomy law got on the way today in the supreme court. It was a packed court room with local and international lawyers for the plaintiff as well as those representing the government and the church; thirteen lawyers in total. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin presided over this morning’s hearings where attorneys for Orozco presented their arguments. Tantamount to Orozco’s arguments is the supremacy of God, or the lack thereof, as they argued that “God” can mean anybody’s “idea” and certainly is not restricted to a Christian God who , according to the Bible, declared homosexuality an abomination. Therefore when the constitution begins by acknowledging the “supremacy of God”, that can mean any number of interpretations, they argue. For Christian observers, it may have seemed as if the God of the Bible was on trial today, but Orozco’s attorneys also argued that it is not about God really but about human rights. This afternoon, Hamel-Smith turned to Section 53 itself, and had to concede that the law has never been used in against consenting homosexual adult males. Since his client cannot claim discrimination on the grounds outlined in the Constitution’s clause on that right, Hamel-Smith said Orozco intended to prove that he was being discriminated against on the grounds of “potential criminalization”. Hamel-Smith was also corrected by his own team of lawyers in the courtroom when he said that the sodomy law has never been used against a heterosexual; which in fact it has. He also said that the judge will have to choose between two worldviews to make his decision and should consider the international leanings and directions of Human Rights organizations on this issue. Hamel-Smith is joined by Belizeans Lisa Shoman and Simeon Sampson, Senior Counsels, and Westmin James of Trinidad, while Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke leads the Attorney General’s team. Lord Peter Goldsmith and Eamon Courtenay, SC, lead the teams for six interested parties in the case. The case continues tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and lasts until Friday.
Yesterday Caleb Orozco accused Pastor Scott Stirm of Jubilee Ministries in Belmopan and a leader in the Belize Action movement of propagating a foreign agenda, a charge that was previously leveled at Orozco himself. Pastor Stirm responded today by reiterating his Belizean identity, saying that it is Orozco and others who “dah cohn ya.”
Pastor Scott Stirm – Belize Action:
I’ve been here for thirty years. I’ve had my whole adult life, and I’ve invested my whole life into this nation. In Kriol we’d say, “I no dah cohn ya.” If anybody dah cohn ya, there the ones dah cohn ya for jumping in our courtroom, to try and use our constitution against our laws. Then they’re gonna jump on a plane and fly out of here and leave us with this mess. No, we’re strongly opposed to that whole perception. The bottom line, let’s take it to the Belizean people. Let’s find out what is the sentiment of the Belizean people. We’ve already got samplings from some of the different polls that have taken place, and the overwhelming majority of people in the nation of Belize don’t want to see this law changed.
Pastor Stirm also reiterated that it is UNIBAM who pushed the issue and now the churches and Belize Action are simply fighting back. The case should be decided by the people of Belize, he said, not the courts.
Pastor Scott Stirm – Belize Action:
We took up this fight in response to UNIBAM’s initiative. We didn’t pick this fight. We are responding. All we’re simply saying in this case is Section 53 is a good law. We’ve done the research on this. In the cases that we have found where Section 53 was used, 78% of those cases were sexual abuse cases against children. I think UNIBAM has been blinded by their own desires and what it is that they’re trying to push for change, and where the statistics show that 78% of the cases where Section 53 was used were sexual abuse against children. All we’re saying is, it’s a good law and don’t change it.
Last night in Belize City, hundreds of Belizeans and concerned persons showed up at the steps of the supreme court . The rally was planned in order to have a prayer time in front of the courtroom. Different speakers addressed the crowd and it was followed by worship and prayer for the court case scheduled for the rest of this week.