The government of Belize would not appeal the Chief Justice's decision to legalize gay sex between consenting adults. Well, today that was confirmed in a press conference where the Attorney General Vanessa Retreage explained why the government will not appeal:…
Hon. Vanessa Retreage - Attorney General
"The government has closely considered the option of appealing and has sought legal advice as to the possible merits and benefits of appealing. In this regard it is noted that there were 7 interested organisations which argued the case a part from the claimant and the government with no less than 15 attorneys representing them. Government is therefore satisfied that the case was properly argued and does not see any aspect of the decision that would benefit from further argument and as such has taken the decision not to appeal. It is also conscious that the option of appealing is open to 1 or more of the interested parties and it is not the government's intent to influence or in any way preclude any legal steps which others may consider that they wish to pursue. The government is however satisfied that it must not appeal simply for the sake of appealing but must ensure that its actions best serves the interest of the Belizean people. The court has decided that Section 53 which challenged was a law which criminalised private sexual conduct between consenting adults and therefore discriminated against the right to privacy and dignity. The government respects that decision and finding."
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"The very many members of cabinet who would want to make clear that their support of the decision taken must be placed in that narrow legal context. It should not be interpreted as any blanket support for LGBT positions. Similarly there are members of cabinet who do support those positions and that is why it is so important to make clear that where cabinet comes together and is prepared to act as one in a united fashion is on this question of the legal merits of the decision given by the Hon.chief justice.”
Gay men can now be physical with one another in Belize without spending ten years in jail:
Belize’s Criminal Code (Section 53) criminalised ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ which included consensual sexual conduct between adult males in private. The law, which though rarely used carried a ten-year prison sentence, disproportionately impacted on the lives of gay men. Caleb Orozco, a Belizean gay man and a prominent human rights defender, launched a challenge to Section 53 in the Supreme Court of Belize. The case was heard in May 2013 and the judgment was delivered by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin on 10 August 2016.
The Supreme Court found that a law criminalising consensual sexual conduct between adults in private, including same-sex intimacy, violates the constitutional rights to dignity, privacy, equality before the law, and non-discrimination on grounds of sex, and cannot be justified on the basis of ‘public morality’. The Court also found that international treaty obligations must inform the interpretation of the Constitutional rights. As a result, the law was declared void and struck out to the extent that it captures consensual sexual conduct between adults in private. The court awarded costs to the Claimant.
Just between men? Gay women could go nuts for days?
Anyway, glad to hear that justice was done. You might wonder who opposed such a simple, equal rights decision. Nah, you don’t wonder. You already know:
A group of churches – namely the Roman Catholic Church of Belize, the Belize Church of England Corporate Body, and the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches – opposed the case as ‘Interested Parties’ and sought to maintain the criminalisation of gay men in Belize.
It’s as predictable as the sunrise: where there is opposition to gay people being happy with the consenting adult of their choice, the Church is there to try and stand in the way and to call for a ten year prison sentence for loving another consenting adult, all while assuring everybody how pro-love they are.
But, as seems to be the case more and more as time goes on, the Church mercifully lost again. It says something about the value of the Church to humankind that in order for love to win, the Church must lose.