How the Caribbean Region is watching section 53

October 15th, 2011

Jamaica Observer

challenge to constitution by gay activists

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) — The Belize Council of Churches (BCC) has filed an application in the Supreme Court joining the Attorney General's Office in opposing a case brought by the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) that seeks to deny rights to gay people.
UNIBAM and its executive president, Caleb Orosco, are challenging Section 53 of the Criminal Code, which states that carnal intercourse against the order of nature is an indictable matter which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
UNIBAM is seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional since gays can face prison time for sexual preferences.
But the BCC said its motion to argue the validity of the law presents a moral argument despite its origin within the Constitution.
"Nobody should be shocked or surprised. The church is the moral authority within the context of the nation and therefore it is the church's view that the very challenge that has been brought against the attorney general is really an attack on the teachings of the church and therefore has made its stand known," said the BCC representative Canon Leroy Flowers.
"This should not be a thing new to anyone. We see this as another undermining of the very moral fibre of the society and while there are many members who may not necessarily agree with the church's position. The church has got to maintain its stance [and] its understanding but more importantly as a society we've said the very preamble of our constitution talks about the supremacy of God.
"You can't talk about the supremacy of God and then undermine the very thing that seeks to uphold that principle and we feel that a part of that principle has to be between a man and a woman and not a man and a man or two women for that matter or a man and an animal as it were.
"Now this does not in any way signify the purity of the church. It simply seeks to challenge what we believe to be part of the moral fibre of our nation," he added.
But Orosco has defended the decision to challenge the matter in court.
"Our case isn't unique in terms of what we're trying to do. We're using a democratic tool. The tool is the Supreme Court and the use of the Constitution. We are not unique in terms of bringing constitutional challenges.
"There are other groups which have done that and have used the court for finding redress so our case is not unique in that regard. Beyond them politicising the sexual rights of individuals that they know nothing about really is a dirty.
"What it means is that gay people or gay men in particular, bisexual men in particular have stood up for basic human rights. What is means is that this case will and have generated a discussion on the basic consciousness of every individual in this country," Orosco said, questioning how would you treat your own blood if they were gay?"

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News from St. Lucia August 26th, 2011
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – Attorney General Rudolph Francis Friday said that calls for the St. Lucia government to repeal the islands anti-buggery laws will depend on the outcome of a legal challenge to a similar law in Belize.
“We have heard the calls from more than one quarter, but we plan to adopt a wait and see attitude on the matter as our law could be affected by a legal challenge currently being heard in Belize,” Francis told reporters.
At least three organisations, including the AIDS Action Foundation (AAF), have been calling on the Stephenson King administration to annul the law.
AAF’s director and a member of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, Veronica Cenac,
said that the current laws on buggery were passed during the era of colonisation and needs to be repealed.
Cenac an attorney said that the laws made a significant contribution to the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus since it made gays reluctant to come forward for testing.
“The buggery law has, particularly from the perspective of the AIDS Action Foundation assisted greatly in promoting the spread of HIV, because most persons who are gay would not turn up for testing or see doctors and because being gay is still taboo in our society most men who are gay have relationships with females and that encourages the spread of AIDS as well,” Cenac noted.
But the Attorney General said the government is monitoring, with keen interest, the legal challenge to buggery laws in Belize by a human rights organisation that also wants the law repealed.
He said the issue is very sensitive and has to be dealt with “kids’ gloves.”
“When it comes to such laws, they can be very conflicting as many different organisations in any society will have different views on the matter, so we are listening with interest to the debate locally and in the region, and being the dynamic government that we are, we would want to know that any decisions we arrive at will be in keeping with the times, with the religious beliefs of our society and the culture of the society.
“As difficult as that is, we will seek to ensure that any decision we take will not offend anyone or would be in keeping with the feelings of the majority,” Francis said, refusing to comment on whether St. Lucia can be considered a homophobic society. source: (


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