Belize Supreme Court strikes down law criminalising homosexuality
The Supreme Court in Belize ruled on Wednesday that a law which criminalises homosexuality is unconstitutional.
The court’s decision was announced by UNIBAM’s twitter account after the ruling.
The LGBT organisation brought a challenge to the law back in 2010.
Under the code, gay citizens face a penalty of up to ten years’ imprisonment.
Section 53 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.”
The United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, is part of a constitutional challenge to overturn the ban on same-sex sexual activity.
UniBAM wrote on Twitter: “The chief justice of Belize. Kenneth Benjamin have found that section 53 of the criminal code is unconstitutional and must be struck down.”
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Adding: “He said sex extended to sexual orientation in our constitution amplifying our rights.”
According to BuzzFeed, attorney Maurice Tomlinson, an attorney in Jamaica challenging the country’s anti-gay law, said it would be “highly persuasive” to other nations with laws criminalising homosexuality.
Tomlinson in the past has accused Jamaica’s Supreme Court of “stacking the deck” against challenges to the law.
Despite this, he and other LGBT rights advocates are looking to Belize hoping that other anti-LGBT laws can be brought down using legal challenges.
350,000 people live in Belize, which has had the anti-gay law since the British empire.
Belize’s lack of legal protections for its LGBT citizens was criticised by the US State Department in a 2011 human rights report.
“This is a momentous victory for Belize, and I congratulate the LGBTQ advocates of Belize, as well as the countless legal experts and supporters who fought for this win,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.
“While Belize is the third country to decriminalize same-sex intimate relationships this year, advocates and attorneys from India to Kenya are diligently working on decriminalization efforts in the 72 countries where such laws remain.”