Belize Carlos Moreno
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) – The United States Ambassador to Belize, Carlos Moreno has described as a “landmark” decision, the ruling of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin that overturned the country’s sodomy law after he ruled that Section 53 of the Criminal Code, which criminalises consenting intercourse between adults of the same s*x, contravenes the right granted by the Constitution.
“I think Chief Justice Benjamin’s opinion is a landmark, transcending decision. As a former judge… in reading that very comprehensive, thorough decision, he covered all the bases beginning with the statutory history of the statute in question,” Moreno said.
He said the chief justice delineated the respective positions of the parties; going through the different contentions by those parties and analysing the Belizean Constitution in terms of a number of rights like equal protection and so forth.
“Also elucidating on international treaties and drawing on international law in support of his ultimate ruling. I think that in particular distinguishing between his obligations to following the rule of law, as delineated in the Constitution, and distinguishing that from the so called morality issues which I think are taken into consideration when any kind of statute is enacted.”
Earlier this month, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activist Caleb Orozco and his United Belize Action Movement (UNIBAM) expressed satisfaction with the ruling by the Chief Justice Benjamin.
Orozco and the group had in 2010 challenged the law claiming it contravened the country’s constitution of no interference with a person’s dignity and personal privacy, as well as equality and equal treatment of all persons before the law.
In late June, the rainbow flag, which is the recognised symbol of gay pride, was hoisted for the first time at the compound of the US Embassy and remained there in commemoration of LGBT Month.
Moreno told television viewers on Thursday night that the conclusion of the chief justice “I think, really speaks loudly and clearly for human rights.
“One thing that I noted and I think the prime minister noted was that this decision and the statute in particular, impacted both homosexual and heterosexual couples that prohibited consensual acts or crimes against nature. So I think it was really a victory for all Belizeans and in particular consenting,” the US diplomat said.
The Belize government has already said there will be “no gender policy” as a result of the ruling and Prime Minister Dean Barrow says his administration will not appeal the ruling.
“No gender policy will emerge in consequence of the chief justice’s ruling and do or set out some of the things that the churches seem to fear are inevitable consequences. It won’t happen. Nothing will change except, as I said, in this narrow regard.
I can, in good conscience, say to the nation that in so far as the claimants are concerned, they have been given what is without a doubt a shield, they have not been given a sword, and the entire nation must understand this,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow told reporters.