Catholic Church's appeal of pro-LGBTI ruling withdrawn
The ODDS were against us in 2016, but we fought back. Organizing pride moments, small protests and meeting with the leader of the opposition among others to neutralised anti-right discussions against section 53. pic.twitter.com/5mrqVS1Esl— UniBAM Belize (@UNIBAMSupport) March 5, 2018
On 5th March, the Catholic Church of Belize announced the withdrawal of its appeal of the Supreme Court of Belize's decision to declare Section 53 of the Criminal Code unconstitutional. As reported on the Monitor, Section 53, which states that "consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex violates the rights to human dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, non-discrimination and equality before the law" and violators face up to ten years in prison, was declared unconstitutional in 2016. A few months later, the Catholic Church and the National Evangelical Association of Belize appealed aspects of the court ruling. As featured on the Monitor, NEAB's appeal was dismissed as they were not a party to the original case.
Caleb Orozco, LGBTI advocate and original plaintiff in the case, stated that:
“When the Catholic Church decided to withdraw, it finally reflected the values of compassion, service, and impacting the lives of people in a way that cannot be described, only felt. One of the things I’ve come to realize after over a decade in advocacy is that legal victories by themselves don’t bring the change, and that the hearts and minds of our people need be engaged in regards to how we treat each other as citizen”.
Amidst tensions over a border conflict between Guatemala and Belize, on 13th January the Guatemalan journalist Rigoberto Escobar Lopez from Prensa Libre reported that he was attacked for taking pictures at the border. The journalist stated that he was approached by three people reportedly from Belize customs who asked what he was doing there and then told him to leave as "he was in Belize's territory". When he tried to leave, the officers "held him by the neck" then released him.