Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coverage Of UniBAM equal Footing with Churches

Posted 11th December, 2012

Hearing dates set for challenge to Section 53 of the Criminal Code

In April of this year, the Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement suffered a setback in their challenge of section fifty three of Belize’s criminal code when the judge in the case Michelle Arana struck off UNIBAM as a claimant in the case. Section fifty three makes it a criminal offence for same sex intercourse, calling it carnal intercourse against the order of nature and Orozco and UNIBAM were contending that the law contravenes their constitutional rights to human dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms. The move to have UNIBAM struck off was one of the primary applications made by the church as an interested party in the proceedings.  But UNIBAM and its president Caleb Orozco are persistent if nothing else, and so when the case came back to court today for a continuation of the preliminaries, UNIBAM scored a comeback.  According to Orozco who is the first claimant in the case, UNIBAM is now on equal standing as the churches, having been accepted as an interested party in the case.  In an interview this afternoon, Orozco told Love News that a date for the full hearing of the challenge to section fifty three of the Criminal Code has been set.

Orozco and UNIBAM are being represented in court by a team of attorneys headed by Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, and includes Westman James, Simeon Sampson and Chris Hamel Smith.  The legal tem for the churches is headed by Senior Counsel Michel Chebat.


2nd Coverage

UNIBAM Regains Ground In Court
posted (December 5, 2012)
The last time we told you about the UNIBAM constitutional challenge, they had suffered a minor loss to the Churches and the Attorney General Ministry. The attorney for the Churches, Michel Chebat, was able to successfully argue before Justice Arana that UNIBAM be removed from the case as the second claimant for highly technical legal reasons.
It meant that the Caleb Orozco, the organization's Executive President, being the first claimant, was the only one who could continue the challenge.
Well, today, the matter went back to court, and UNIBAM's attorney, Lisa Shoman, made 2 applications before Justice Arana, the main one of which to get UNIBAM to join the case once again.
The position is that this organization represents over 100 persons who wish to remain anonymous, but believe that at section 53 of the constitution violates their rights to have sexual relations with same sex partners.
Shoman was successful on those 2 applications, and outside of court, 7News asked her and Orozco about the importance of today's outcome.
Here's what they said:
Lisa Shoman - Attorney for UNIBAM
" The previous ruling was that UNIBAM as an organization had no rights, especially no rights of privacy, no rights relating to how they conduct themselves sexually. As an organization, the organization does not actually reproduce or have sexual rights, so therefore, the organization was struck off. This application was different. It is saying that the members do have those rights and want UNIBAM to represent them. Essentially, what it has come down to is that UNIBAM has been appointed not as a representative claimant, but as an interested. It is now exactly on the same footing as the churches, no different. It will have every single right that the churches have to make arguments in this case. I am sure that everyone will have realized that the active defence in this matter are really the churches, not so much the Attorney General's Chambers. They are the ones - I think - who are more passionately interested - if that's the word - and so, UNIBAM is now back in the case on exactly the same footing as the churches."
Daniel Ortiz
"Before this case arose, no one knew of UNIBAM. What sort of status does it enjoy legally?"
Lisa Shoman
"It's a registered company, a registered association. It has a membership of over 120 persons. And in the affidavits that we put before the court, all of that was set out, including the type of advocacy work that it does, which is mainly for the MSMLGBT population in Belize."
Caleb Orozco - Executive President, UNIBAM
"Justice isn't as swift as one would think, and so, you have to have a strong stomach to deal with some of the challenges that come with bringing a case. I am able to do this because nobody will fire me. I am able to do this because - I am able to operate in an organization because I know who the landlord is. And so, I have a great deal of responsibility come down on my shoulders to represent those who could lose not only those basic rights to education and shelter, but basic rights to security, which I personally have experienced over the last few years. So, at the end of the day, what boils down to is whether or not you're stubborn enough to put up with the slow grinding process of the judicial system, or whether you'll be afraid and cover your tail."
Lisa Shoman
"Let's remind the public of one thing, it is during the course of already filing this case that Mr. Orozco was assaulted, and had teeth broken and severe bruising to his face. He was assaulted in the street by persons simply because he was identified as a member of the LGBT population in Belize. So, there are not too many people who feel secure enough, or who feel safe enough to come forward and allow themselves to be identified individually. You could ask the same of the churches. Why haven't individuals come forward and ask to be joined individually."
The substantive matter in this case will be argued to completion on May 7 to May 10 of next year.


Coverage Three:

UNIBAM becomes an “Interested Party” in court challenge to Homosexual law
UNIBAM becomes an “Interested Party” in court challenge to Homosexual law
Date: Wed 05, Dec 2012 | Views: 82
Yesterday we told you that a preliminary hearing in Claim No. 668 of 2010 between activist Caleb Orozco and his organization UNIBAM and the Government of Belize was scheduled for this morning before Justice Michelle Arana in the Supreme Court. In April, the organization was thrown out of the case as co-claimants with Orozco as the judge ruled that they had no standing as an organization to claim protection under Section 20 of the Constitution. Today, attorney for Orozco and UNIBAM, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, returned to court seeking to have the organization  reinstated to the case as a “representative party” under the Supreme Court rules. Shoman sought in court to distinguish between “representative party” and “interested party”, arguing that because UNIBAM’s one hundred and twenty one members feel publicly discriminated against, they have declined to personally add themselves to the case but have asked the organization to represent their interests in court.

Senior Counsel LISA SHOMAN:
As you know the Churches' interested parties had applied to have UNIBAM struck off the case.  Today's application was about the members of UNIBAM asking the Court to allow UNIBAM to represent their interests in the case.  Clearly individual members of UNIBAM have a concern, that their constitutional rights are being violated, and today they asked the court to allow UNIBAM to represent them. It is saying essentially that the members of UNIBAM do have those rights, and do want UNIBAM to represent them. Essentially what it has come down to is that UNIBAM has been appointed, not as a representative claimant, but as an interested party.  And as an interested party, it is exactly on the same footing as the churches.  No difference.

Replying for the Church Interested Parties, Senior Counsel Michel Chebat told the court that the arguments used by Shoman were similar to those used when the organization was trying to stay in the case and pointed out that the court had already ruled on UNIBAM’s status. However, he conceded that they could be added as interested parties.With that, Justice Arana declined the application to have UNIBAM be a representative party in the case but allowed them to be interested parties. Orozco was asked to elaborate on why his fellow MSM and LGBT are unwilling to come forward and are apparently hiding behind the UNIBAM umbrella.


What it boils down to is whether your stubborn enough to put up with this slow grinding process of the Judicial System, or whether you'll be afraid and cover your tail. For me, nobody can accuse me of not having a strong stomach to stand up to rallies, to stand up to the idea that my efforts are opening a gateway to demon possession.  So one has to be seen, and one has to have some level of self care, otherwise the stress comes with some medication, like sedatives, to try and not loose control.

A trial date has been set in the case. The last expert reports from both sides are due by February 18, 2013; skeleton arguments will be exchanged by April 15, and the case will go to formal trial beginning on May 7, 2013.
Coverage Four:
Highlights — 07 December 2012 — by Bilal Morris
The landmark case of the government of Belize and the churches versus UNIBAM continued this week as the defense and the prosecution made new statements in court.
It is believed by some UNIBAM supporters that Justice Michelle Arana, in addressing the position of UNIBAM’s preliminary filing of the case, struck out its claim for individual rights but did recognise them as an organization that can claim human rights under the law.
UNIBAM representative, Caleb Orozco, stated that he feels positive about the December 5, 2012 court decision, and that Justice Arana’s ruling in pushing the full hearing of the case to May 7-10 of 2013 has given them time to prepare for the next stage, where they will be able to submit extensions by February 18, 2013. He reiterated that UNIBAM is relentless in its struggle for what he called, “fundamental rights and freedom.”
But critics are noting an attempt by UNIBAM to exploit the recent statement made by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that governments like Belize must do everything in their jurisdiction to modify their laws to protect people who are transgender or who are engaged in same-sex relations.
Pastor Scott Stirm, a spokesperson representing the Belizean churches, still felt that the churches have made some inroads on the case and expressed deep support of the church’s position to stand its ground.
“UNIBAM is trying to use the preamble of the constitution to push a lifestyle in Belize that is unacceptable,” he stated, “They are trying to push this issue as a human rights issue. And there is an international/global agenda that is pushing homosexuality and abortion.”
“On a moral basis we disagree with the U.S. government,” said Stirm. “UNIBAM receives support from the U.S. in the name of human rights. But we will not allow them to legalize this lifestyle so that they have free course to go into the schools and teach our kids their lifestyle.”
Amandala has not been able to get any government position on the latest court proceedings on the issue, but learned through sources that Government remains firm on its position.
The Obama administration recently sent a message this year to countries in the Caribbean and Central America stating that there would be economic repercussions for non-compliance with its policies of acceptance of homosexual and transgender lifestyles.
However, most of the targeted governments – almost all of which are developing countries — have challenged the U.S.’s position as an attempt to force them to accept policies that are not supported by their respective populations.
Orozco, for his part, has expressed his group’s intentions to take the issue to the Court of Appeal and even to the Caribbean Court of Justice if the opposition against them from Government and the religious community continues to mount. Orozco says that they will continue to organize and will start a popular education campaign on the rights of transgender and homosexual individuals across Belize.
“There is a layer of comfort from the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support for our cause here in Belize,” stated Orozco.
According to Pastor Stirm, the Belize Human Rights Commission has shown no backbone in addressing morally degrading issues in Belize. He said that they have exploited the issue for their own interest.
“The Human Rights Commission is pushing the agenda because they are getting big funding for this,” stated Stirm. “Where was the Human Rights Commission when Jasmine Lowe was murdered?” he asked.

Source: http://amandala.com.bz/news/unibam-homosexual-rights-case-slated-7-10-2013/

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