Freedom House Supports Challenge to Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Belize | Freedom House

Freedom House Supports Challenge to Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Belize

This week, the Supreme Court of Belize will hear arguments challenging a constitutional provision which criminalizes homosexuality.  Freedom House joins Mr. Caleb Orozco, his colleagues from the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), and the LGBTI community in Belize in urging the court to strike down section 53 of the constitution, which carries a ten-year prison sentence for those convicted of engaging in homosexual behavior.  This law robs LGBTI people of their fundamental human rights and relegates them to second class citizens.

From May 7 to 10, the Supreme Court in Belize will hear arguments challenging section 53.  Mr. Orozco, executive director of UNIBAM, is the sole petitioner after UNIBAM was removed by the courts as a co-complainant.  This is the first time an anti-homosexuality law has been challenged through the courts in a Caribbean country.

“Belize has the opportunity to lead other countries in the Caribbean to reconsider their draconian laws and promote and protect the rights of all of its citizens regardless of their race, creed, gender, gender-identity and sexual orientation,” said Ariel Herrera, senior program officer for Dignity for All at Freedom House.

The Catholic, Anglican and Evangelical churches, the most outspoken supporters of the law, have campaigned aggressively against LGBTI rights in Belize, and have sought to defame Mr. Orozco and UNIBAM’s work with alleged support from U.S. Evangelical churches.  As a result, Mr. Orozco has received numerous death threats both on the streets and in social media outlets.

Freedom House urges all Belizeans to stand together peacefully and press their government to strike down section 53.  In addition, Freedom House calls on the government of Belize to ensure the safety and security of Mr. Orozco and his colleagues.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2013: Belize

Freedom of the Press 2012: Belize