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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:20 pm 
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Activist to sue Belize entry ban on gays
19 December 2012
By Dan Littauer

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Scott Nunn

Maurice Tomlinson, an LGBT advocate is to challenge Belize’s entry ban on gays in an international court.

Tomilnson, a Jamaican national and legal advisor for the NGO AIDS-Free World has been invited to conduct training and sensitization sessions regarding the rights of individuals infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

The sessions, due to take place in Belize on the 14-16 January 2013, are an initiative of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, the country’s only civil society group promoting the health and human rights of LGBT and men who have sex with men citizens.

However, section 5 of Belize’s Immigration Act prohibits entry to homosexuals, people with mental health issues and physical disabilities. The law, which is written in an archaic and offensive language, prohibits entry into Belize to:

‘(b) any idiot or any person who is insane or mentally deficient or any person who is deaf and dumb or deaf and blind, or dumb and blind;

‘(e) any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behaviour;’

As an attorney-at-law Tomlinson has no intention of lying, nor breaking the law and therefore he had to reject the invitation from the United Belize Advocacy Movement. This despite the recognition that Belize is in urgent need of such expertise, and the sessions are in line with the human rights approach to combatting HIV promoted by UNAIDS. Tomlinson also considers the ban on his entry into Belize to be a violation of his right to freedom of movement within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which the country is a member.

With the support of AIDS-Free World, he has initiated a challenge to Belize’s Immigration Act before the highest court in the region, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Last month Tomlinson was invited as a speaker in a UN meeting in Trinidad and Tobago but had to turn that invitation down as well, as the country has a similar prohibition to Belize’s. He subsequently initiated a legal challenge to the Trinidadian immigration law before the CCJ.

Repealing that law, and section 5 of the Belize Immigration Act, will also liberate other marginalized groups. It is noteworthy that in 2011, Belize signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In accordance with the rules of the CCJ, Tomlinson has written to his government, Jamaica, asking that it insist that the government of Belize remove this unreasonable travel restriction.

If this is not forthcoming, Tomlinson can petition the Jamaican government to bring the matter before the CCJ on the grounds that Belize’s immigration act breaches the provisions for free movement of persons in CARICOM. If the government of Jamaica fails or refuses to bring the matter before the CCJ, Tomlinson intends to try and do so himself.

Tomlinson told Gay Star new: ‘The offensive and overbroad prohibitions in section 5 of the Belize Immigration Act contribute to crushing stigmatization and discrimination against the most vulnerable populations in the Caribbean. The law must to be expunged if the region is to rid itself of the last vestiges of its horrific past of exploitation and unspeakable cruelty. Such laws have no place in the pluralistic societies that we wish to forge’.

He further pointed out that Belize’s anti-gay law acts to restrict ‘the fight against HIV, and contributes to the fact that the region has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa’.

Source: Gay Star News.

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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 4:29 pm 
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Belize gay rights activist in court battle to end homophobic colonial-era laws
by Owen Bowcott and Maya Wolfe-Robinson
Thursday, 2 May 2013

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Caleb Orozco

Caleb Orozco has been denounced as the antichrist, received death threats and had a beer bottle smashed into his face.

Next Tuesday, the gay rights campaigner will face a very different kind of challenge, when he comes up against the attorney general of Belize and the leaders of the country's churches.

The courtroom battle over the Caribbean state's colonial-era "anti-buggery" laws is a significant milestone in a global campaign to decriminalise homosexuality.

For four days, Orozco, supported by the former UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith and Godfrey Smith, Belize's former attorney general, will dispute the legality of a 19th-century law drafted in Britain. Defending section 53 of Belize's criminal code, which outlaws "carnal intercourse" between consenting same-sex adults, will be Belize's current attorney general, Wilfred Elrington, backed by the country's Catholic, Anglican and evangelical churches.

Belize's churches have been at the forefront of those condemning the legal challenge. The most outspoken opponent is Pastor Scott Stirm, a Texas evangelical missionary who runs Belize Action; he has praised the existing legislation as "a good law that protects human dignity" on the grounds that it is often used in sex abuse cases.

Section 53 declares that "every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years". Like so many laws around the world criminalising homosexuality, Section 53 is a legacy of imperial rule from London. Buggery with consent and bestiality were deemed merely to be "public nuisances" when the criminal code of Belize came into force in 1888. The offence was re-categorised as an "unnatural crime" during the second world war.

The case, to be heard in Belize's supreme court, is also supported by the UK-based Human Dignity Trust, which has recruited Goldsmith to help present the claim. He will argue that section 53 is inconsistent with the country's constitution and in breach of international standards. The trust is supporting legal actions around the world to remove laws that criminalise gay relationships. Cases have also begun in Jamaica and northern Cyprus, both formerly British colonies.

Orozco, 39, president of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, is openly gay. "I don't have a partner now," he told the Guardian from Belize City. "If the law is changed and people are less scared, I might have a personal life. The loudest homophobes are the evangelicals. People have called me the antichrist for taking this case. Extreme homophobes I can tolerate but people I have known for years, who I did not think would take such a position, that's hurtful."

One message on a Facebook site debating his case, which he believes amounted to a death threat, referred to a passage in Leviticus that prescribes the death penalty for any man who has sexual relations with another man. Another threat suggested adjourning the case until Orozco died of a "cause due to sexual preference". In February 2012, Orozco was taunted with anti-gay insults and hit in the face with a bottle. He needed surgery. "They took it upon themselves to teach me a lesson," he recalled. "They pretended they had nothing in their hands ... It was a humiliation. I had fought for over two decades to stop assaults. That one caught me."

Section 53, he said, has been used, though not frequently, to prosecute those involved in consenting gay relationships. Its presence ensures that being gay remains taboo and that there is a climate of hatred. "I know of a case where [people] blackmailed a man for $400, saying that otherwise they would tell his parents [about his sexuality]. Our opponents say we are trying to introduce gay marriage but this law has nothing to do with gay marriage."

Belize Action has distributed leaflets claiming that Section 53 has "never been used to charge, prosecute or convict any person for a consensual act". Another flyer declares: "[UniBAM] are bringing foreign attorneys from foreign homosexual organisations with huge foreign funding to impose their foreign values upon [us]."

Belize, with a population of 330,000, achieved independence from Britain in 1981. The stance of its Anglican and Catholic churches is at odds with positions taken by the Church of England and the Vatican on gay rights. A statement released by the Roman Catholic Bishop Dorick Wright of the diocese of Belize and Belmopan, Bishop Philip Wright of the Anglican diocese of Belize and Rev Eugene Crawford of the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches announced in 2011 that they were joining the government side in the test case. It declared: "This lawsuit was filed to establish a new 'right' to engage in homosexual acts in Belize. In every country that has granted a new 'right' to homosexual behaviour, activists have promoted and steadily expanded this 'right' to trump universally recognised rights to religious freedom and expression."

Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust, said: "This case is a microcosm of what's going on around the world. People are working through the courts. [Orozco] is a really brave gay who is taking on the full wrath of the Christian right."

Orozco's case could eventually end up before the Caribbean's highest court of appeal, based in Trinidad and Tobago. If the case reaches Belize's court of appeal – one rung above its supreme court – the next step would be to seek permission to appeal to the Caribbean court of justice (CCJ). Belize has been a member of the CCJ since leaving the jurisdiction of the London-based privy council in 2010.

The court has not heard a gay rights case since opening in 2005, although an application is being prepared by Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, challenging Belize's immigration laws, which bans gay men and women from entering the country.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 9:12 pm 
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Caribbean court hears suit against 2 nations' anti-gay laws
By DAVID McFADDEN
18 March 2015

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- A Caribbean court on Wednesday heard a challenge from a gay rights activist who argued that immigration laws ostensibly barring homosexuals from entering two countries in the region are discriminatory and must be repealed.

Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican gay rights activist who is a legal adviser with New York-based AIDS-Free World, argues that obscure immigration rules barring entry to homosexuals in Trinidad & Tobago and Belize violate freedom of movement rights under a key Caribbean Community treaty. He took his challenge to the Caribbean Court of Justice, the final appeals court for some members of the 15-member Caricom.

In testimony before a panel of judges, authorities from Trinidad & Tobago and Belize insisted the sections of their immigration laws that list homosexuals among a group of "prohibited classes" go unenforced in both countries due to unwritten policies. Maria Marin, acting immigration director of Belize, said agents have never denied entry to someone based on their sexual orientation.

Trinidad's acting immigration chief, Gerry Downes, testified that the section of the law barring homosexuals from entry is ignored and "we do not inquire about the sexual orientation of a person." Trinidad & Tobago's immigration law drew criticism in 2007 when gay pop star Elton John had to obtain a waiver to perform there amid opposition by religious groups.

Tomlinson, who testified before the Trinidad-based court from Jamaica so as not to knowingly break the twin-island country's law, argues that non-enforcement is no reason to keep the discriminatory laws on the books. "If the state has no intention of enforcing the law, then the logical thing to do is change it," Tomlinson said on his Facebook page before Wednesday's hearing.

Janet Burak, a lawyer who is AIDS-Free World's deputy director and attended the hearing in Trinidad, said that there was no ruling at the close of two days of hearings and that the regional court now has three months to render a decision. The two countries named in Tomlinson's lawsuit are among nearly a dozen English-speaking Caribbean nations that have anti-sodomy laws that outlaw homosexuality between men.

Source: AP

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