Belize Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Rights of LGBT People
Washington, D.C.— Human Rights First today applauded the overturning of Belize’s discriminatory sodomy law, a development that marks an historic victory for the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Belize. The decision by the country’s Supreme Court struck down a law that had been in place since the country was a British colony; it appears to be the first time a court has struck down a sodomy law in the Caribbean region. The plaintiff in the case was Caleb Orozco, Executive Director of United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM).
“We are thrilled for our partners at UNIBAM and the entire LGBT movement in Belize,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “This is the result of years of activism to advance the human rights of LGBT people and this ruling represents a key victory for justice and equality. Let us hope that this step may inspire neighboring Caribbean countries to take action to end the criminalization that only serves to marginalize groups of citizens who simply seek equality and respect.”
Sodomy laws often are used to justify marginalization of LGBT communities throughout the region. Such discriminatory laws foster environments that set the stage for bias-motivated violence and discrimination. The invalidation of the law signals a move toward inclusion for LGBT Belizeans. As an ally and partner, the U.S. government should encourage its counterparts in Belize to uphold the rights of all its citizens, including members of the LGBT community, and bolster its work to support civil society and the LGBT movement.