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Belize court rules law punishing homosexuality is unconstitutional

Published:Wednesday | August 10, 2016 | 8:08 PM

The Supreme Court in Belize has ruled in a landmark case for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that the country's law punishing homosexuality is unconstitutional.

The decision was handed down today, six years after a gay citizen and advocate, 42-year-old Caleb Orozco, brought the challenge against the Attorney General.

The court's decision overturns Section 53, of the Belize criminal code that calls for a 10-year prison term for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

Caleb had argued that Section 53 breaches his right to human dignity protected by the Belize Constitution.

He also contended that the Section breaches his right to privacy given under the Constitution because it criminalises and stigmatises consensual sexual activities between gay men, violating their right to give expression to their sexuality.

The decision which could have persuasive effect on the region's jurisprudence comes as a similar challenge is being mounted against Jamaica's Offences Against the Person Act, which criminalises anal sex.

"A victory for the Caribbean", Jamaican gay rights advocate and lawyer, Maurice Tomlinson wrote on Facebook this afternoon after the Belize chief justice handed down the decision.

Tomlinson is leading the challenge against the Jamaican law.

Meanwhile, the Belize case had implications for Jamaican professor and HIV expert, Brendan Bain, whose testimony against striking down the law may have cost him a job at the University of the West Indies.

The university fired Bain as head of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training saying stakeholders had lost confidence in him following his expert testimony.