The former British colony of Belize is now in the news, as Belizean LGBTQ activist Caleb Orozco is attempting to overturn the country's ban on sodomy.
Caleb Orozco is an openly gay man in a country that criminalizes his existence. Belizean law says that “every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years;” the statute defines sex between between consenting same-sex adults as being one such unnatural act. Orozco and his organization (the United Belize Advocacy Movement) succeeding in pushing a legal case against the ban on same-sex activity to the nation’s highest court on Wednesday.The Guardian:
While neighboring Mexico has constitutionally mandated marriage equality, the LGBT communities in Belize’s other neighbors — Honduras and Guatemala — have been frequent targets of anti-gay discrimination and violence. But even those two countries don’t ban same-sex sexual activity.
Caleb Orozco has been denounced as the antichrist, received death threats and had a beer bottle smashed into his face. Next Tuesday, the gay rights campaigner will face a very different kind of challenge, when he comes up against the attorney general of Belize and the leaders of the country's churches.Hopefully, common sense should prevail in Belize... with its anti-sodomy laws going in the trashcan.
Belize's churches have been at the forefront of those condemning the legal challenge. The most outspoken opponent is Pastor Scott Stirm, a Texas evangelical missionary who runs Belize Action; he has praised the existing legislation as "a good law that protects human dignity" on the grounds that it is often used in sex abuse cases.
Section 53 declares that "every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years". Like so many laws around the world criminalising homosexuality, Section 53 is a legacy of imperial rule from London. Buggery with consent and bestiality were deemed merely to be "public nuisances" when the criminal code of Belize came into force in 1888. The offence was re-categorised as an "unnatural crime" during the second world war.