It was on August 10, 2016, that Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck down Section 53 of the Criminal Code which criminalized consenting intercourse between adults of the same sex. It was a victorious day for the LGBT community of Belize; however, the Government of Belize, which first decided not to appeal, after meeting with members of the Belize Council of Churches, decided to partially appeal the amended criminal code. Meanwhile, the churches decided to appeal the entire judgment. Today, the case management was heard before the Court of Appeal. Love News spoke with the Executive Director of UNIBAM Caleb Orosco.
Caleb Orozco – Executive Director, UNIBAM
“The most exciting thing about that judgement is that it transformed the way people thought of rights acknowledgement informally, that’s one. Two, it inspired our community with hope that there is a possibility that the state will stop treat us as a third class citizen and extend protective legislation to born Belizeans that are LGBT. The disappointing part of that is realizing that as citizens Cabinet decided that we weren’t worth on principle, the Constitutional protection which they are obliged to uphold, that we weren’t worth on principle, that they needed to take a stand on treating its own citizens fairly and apply the ideals of our Consitution equally; that was a great disappointment. And so you learn from that decision that nobody will defend your dignity and rights better than you as an individual, concerned and experiencing the pain and marginalization that occurs as a citizen.
We also spoke with Attorney Lisa Shoman who told us what transpired in court this morning.
Lisa Shoman – Attorney
“This is actually the second case management that we’ve had in terms of the two appeals that are involved here. As you know there is one appeal by the Roman Catholic Church and there is another appeal by the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s appeal is on a very narrow point. It’s actually the point of whether sex does include sexual orientation. The Roman Catholic Church of course has chosen to appeal the entire ruling and also the costs. We are looking at two cases. The Roman Catholic Church has changed attorneys, they have a new attorney, Mr. Andrew Marshalleck and so what we’ve done is to speak with Mr. Marshalleck, look at the timing and the case will be set down for the first session of the Court of Appeal next year which we expect to be in March.”
The Court has decided that the matters will be heard together. It has indicated that the Attorney General and the church file their skeleton arguments by the end of October. Thereafter, the team of attorneys for Caleb Orozco is expected to reply to those arguments by the end of December. The matter is set for March 2018.