Local LGBT group welcomes overturning of sodomy laws in Belize

Local LGBT group welcomes overturning of sodomy laws in Belize

The local LGBT community, represented by Saint Lucia’s only LGBT organization – United and Strong, has welcomed a ruling by the Belize Supreme Court, overturning the age-old ban on homosexuality.

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled that Section 53 of the Criminal Code which criminalized intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex, contravened the right granted by the Belize Constitution.

Bennet Charles, the Advocacy and Communications Officer for United & Strong told the Times that the Belize ruling sends a strong message to the rest of the Caribbean.

Charles disclosed that over the past three years United & Strong has been closely following the case and had thrown its full support behind the claimants in the matter.

He asserted that the decision of the court was not merely a victory for organizations and the LGBT movement in Belize, but a message to countries of the region which still have “antiquated” laws.

“We believe that this specific ruling in Belize sends the clear message that these antiquated laws which were placed there  more for persecution rather than prosecution, truly need to be removed from our books,” Charles told the Times.

Charles stated that his organization will always support LGBT groups across the region that challenge unconstitutional laws.

He recalled that in the past United and Strong has made representation to the government here through the Constitutional Reform Committee to examine the issue.

Charles expressed the hope that governments of the region would start reflecting on their own laws as a result of the Belize Supreme Court ruling.

“Those laws focus on a level of intolerance, promote discrimination and in some places, violence against people,” he declared.

Charles observed that since Saint Lucia has a new government in place, the new administration could reflect on the anti-LGBT laws that are currently on the local law books.

He felt that eventually the anti-LGBT laws will be removed.

However Charles said that the repeal would be within the context of organizations like United and Strong and other like minded groups in the region setting the stage by educating people.

“We feel that while it may happen in Saint Lucia, we need to ensure as an organization that we work a lot harder in terms of educating the Saint Lucian public and our policy makers so that one day we can realize such a victory in our own country,” he told the Times.

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