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Activist challenges Belize's church and state over anti-gay law

In a climate of anti-gay moral panic, Caleb Orozco leads a fight to force Belize to repeal its law punishing gay sex with up to ten years imprisonment
In a climate of anti-gay moral panic, Caleb Orozco leads a fight to force Belize to repeal its law punishing gay sex with up to ten years imprisonment

Caleb Orozco, an LGBT rights advocate is taking to court Belize’s government and an anti-gay religious lobby in an attempt to overturn the country’s anti-gay sex law.

Mr. Orozco, chair of United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), is seeking to amend Section 53 of the Laws of Belize, which states ‘every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.’

He will appear before the Supreme Court of Belize on 7 May, 2013 in a bid to repeal the country’s colonial based ‘anti-buggery’ law, the last country in Central America that maintains such a legislation.

Orozco is facing power anti-gay organizations and individuals in Belize who allege the repeal of Section 53 will lead to the ruin of the country and refer to him as the ‘Anti-Christ’ and a traitor.

He has repeatedly received death threats and in February 2012, Orozco suffered a violent physical assault which required extensive dental surgery.

Among those leading the opposition against Caleb Orozco is the chair of Belize Action, Scott Stirm, which has engaged in a ceaseless campaign of fear and misinformation intended to smear LGBT persons in Belize.

In media appearances, television and radio commercials, and through social media Belize Action constantly suggests that gays are pedophiles, and that the decriminalization of consensual same-sex activity will lead to legalized male rape and the total collapse of social morality.

Reports indicate that many residents of the small state have taken to this moral panic.

Scott Stirm, who himself is from Waco, Texas, claims that Orozco is simply a puppet being used to force a ‘foreign agenda’ on the nation of Belize, alleging the US President Obama and former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton are behind the case.

Lisa Shoman, Orozco’ attorney, flatly rejected the smear campaign saying: ‘this is not only a gay rights issue but rather a human rights issue.’

Maurice Tomlinson, a leading Jamaican LGBT rights advocate and lawyer told Gay Star News: ‘Fundamentalist Christian groups from North America have been exporting their homophobic hatred to Belize for many years.

‘Stirm and his ilk are using increasingly incendiary language to whip Belizeans into a frenzy ahead of the first domestic challenge to the Belizean anti-sodomy law scheduled for 7 May, 2013.

‘The government of Belize has resisted calls by local and international groups, including the UN Human Rights Committee, to repeal its archaic and discriminatory law, out of fear of the powerful religious right, successive governments have refused to do so.

‘Now a brave team of local activists, led by Caleb Orozco, are taking the government to court to seek a judicial repeal of the law which is in clear violation of the rights found in the Constitution of Belize’.

You can read Tomlinson's comment article here.

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