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#463657 - 05/04/13 11:16 AM UNIBAM: The Big Issues
Marty Offline
The UNIBAM Case goes to court on Monday, and let’s put it this way: we’ve never had a Supreme Court case promoted in a television advertisement. But, that’s how high the stakes are for Monday’s big showdown.

As many as eight local and foreign Senior and Queen’s Counsels will crowd into the Chief Justice’s courtroom for the hearing. And while the arguments will deal with human rights, church and state, section 53 of the criminal code and other weighty issues….at the core, it’s about the individual – and his right, or his wrong to have relations with men, and whether that somehow up-ends the social order, or if it just leaves people to do as they please in the privacy of their bedrooms.

In July of 2011, Janelle Chanona explored the complex stew of issues that arise from this case – to keep things in context for Monday’s hearing, we re-visit her report.

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, May 13th 2011
"I would limit myself to saying that the government as a government has taken the position that it needs to argue for the constitutionality of the law that is in place that's being challenged and so I would not go beyond that official position. I am not prepared to comment on my own physiological conviction or lack thereof. That is the official position of the government. This is one time when it might be wise for me to say nothing more."

Pastor Scott Stirm, Jubilee Ministries, Belmopan
"By natural law they cannot reproduce. Therefore they must recruit and I want to say this in the strongest terms possible. That's what this is all about. This is their evangelistic campaign."

Martha Carillo, Regional Discrimination Unit, PANCAP, CARICOM
"It is not about changing people's values, even to seek acceptance. I think the bottom line is that people need to be respected and we cannot have laws that disrespect the human rights of individuals."

Johnny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"The party does not have a position as yet and we'll certainly have to discuss as a party before we have a position."

Pastor Louis Wade Junior, Talk Show Host, Christian Youth Motivational Speaker
"We love people. We love these people. We love all people. It is the behavior that we have a problem with."

Caleb Orozco, Executive President, United Belize Advocacy Movement
"I am willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to enforce my right and my freedom and to meet the needs of my wellbeing as a human being."

Janelle Chanona (stand-up)
"The subject of sex is typically an uncomfortable topic for Belizeans. But the debate over whether the laws should be changed to decriminalize sodomy in this country has ignited fiery reactions from both supporters and opponents."

As it currently stands, the Criminal Code of Belize states that “Every person who has carnal knowledge against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable for imprisonment for ten years.” But in early 2011, Caleb Orozco, the Executive President of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) filed for judicial review of the law, contending that the words “any person or” should be removed because they are a violation of his Constitutional right to sexual freedom.

Caleb Orozco, Executive Director, UNIBAM
"The case is personal and it’s about reminding the system that my human rights isn’t about picking and choosing which you’ll support and which you will ignore. My human rights is total. It’s not to be mandated by the church because the church does not govern this country. Period."

If the law is changed, Belize would be only the second Caribbean country to decriminalize sodomy...Bahamas being the first. In May, that possible outcome prompted the Belize Council of Churches, which represents the major Christian denominations of Belize, as well as the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches to join the case as interested parties. The religious leaders insist Belize’s very soul is at stake.

Bishop Dorrick Wright, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Belize
"We have the story from the old testament of Sodom and Gomorrah, God destroyed a whole country, a whole place because of this same reason. I am not certain if he will do this to the United States where it seems to be popular and getting very common, but I don't think we have to follow what the United States does and I think we should think for ourselves and see what would be the evil outcome of this whole thing if we get into changing the laws of our country to permit same sex marriage and children must be taught that this is an acceptable way of life and you know its just down right wrong."

Good morning Belize and welcome to another edition of Rise and Shine, my name is Louis Wade.

One of the most vocal opponents to the gay rights case has been talk show host and Christian Youth motivational speaker, Pastor Louis Wade Junior.

Pastor Louis Wade Junior, Talk Show Host/Motivational Speaker
"Mark my words, it starts with one lawsuit, when this lawsuit is over, if they get their way, the next set of lawsuits will be against the social security board and other large organizations, insurance companies that must give compensation not only a person but also to their spouse. The third set of litigation is going to be church and religious denominations across the nation when they refuse to marry homosexual couples. And then the final set of mass litigation will be against people who stand up and say that this kind of practice is wrong."

Pastor Scott Stirm, Jubilee Ministries, Belmopan
"Presently in the United Kingdom, there are lawsuits trying to lower the age of consent. That proves to me, the agenda. They are after the children, they are recruiting campaigns and it’s for people that have, I would say, demented sexual practices and they want to go after the kids. That is happening globally, all over the world. It’s called the child sex trade and this is another expression of that same exact agenda. They want to go to younger and younger ages. And again, these are the things that cause us to stand up and rise with a lion’s roar and say “no way”, we will not allow this to happen, not only our watch."

Both Wade and his Christian colleague Pastor Scott Stirm insist that no one is born gay and maintain Belize’s laws should uphold rights, not choices.

Pastor Scott Stirm, Jubilee Ministries
"It’s a learnt behavior...it’s something people pick up along the way. But I have ministered to I would say countless people, particularly in sexual abuse situations and the majority of them have been sexually abused. When you understand clinical homosexual behavior and clinical homosexual foundations, the absence of the fatherly role plays a huge factor. So you have people that have classic foundations for homosexuality. But then you have other people that just pick up from basic influence of perversion or exposing to pornography and the power of suggestion and things like that."

Louis Wade, Jr., Christian Youth Motivation Speaker, Talk Show Host
"If they are born that way, it will be found in their genes. Where is the gene? I have met ex-gays and ex-lesbians but I have never met ex-blacks person, this is not a civil rights issue."

Similarly strong sentiments were also voiced in February 1998 when the cruise ship the MS Leeward docked in Belize carrying eight hundred and sixty gay men onboard. For Orozco, that incident and his own experiences highlights that he is living in a homophobic society, which is why the majority of Belizean men who have sex with men live secret lives.

Caleb Orozco, Executive President, UNIBAM
"Some of the things they say were like faggot, bonefire, they basically use a lot of the Jamaican dancehall slangs to let me know where my place is and that’s rather frustrating because all I was doing was going to buy condense milk. I don’t believe that I deserve to be treated like that especially if I’m not looking at you or harassing you in any way."

"I need my freedom to be honest with people. I perpetuate my own discrimination or my own experience of homophobia by remaining silent."

Martha Carillo, Technical Associate, Regional Stigma and Discrimination Unit, PANCAP, CARICOM
"Very few people will come to a workshop, very few people will access services at a health centre if they know the minute they step in they are going to be ridiculed or they are going to be treated any less than anybody else."

Martha Carillo is Technical Associate of the PANCAP Regional Stigma and Discrimination Unit. Carillo recently concluded a baseline study on stigma and discrimination with various focus groups, the media, the police, the Belize Defence Force and the religious community about populations such as men who have sex with men.

Martha Carillo, Technical Associate, Stigma and Discrimination Unit, PANCAP
"The preliminary findings are indicating that stigma and discrimination are very much alive in Belize and it is coming from sectors that make it even more scarier for all of us. Because you would think that some of these would be sectors that would be embracing, loving, protecting, providing security and the experiences that have been shared with us indicate to us that we really are living in a critical situation and something needs to be done. And if we have laws, practices and policies that are contributing to this then it needs to be addressed in a very frank and genuine manner."

Ivan Cruikshank, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition
"The most effect response to address HIV and AIDS has to be addressing the social and legal environment, within the country."

According to Ivan Cruickshank, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, countries with high HIV prevalence rates, like Belize, should be supporting every effort to eradicate stigma and discrimination to curb the spread of the disease.

Ivan Cruikshank
"At all levels we are saying to policy makers, review your existing legal and policy environment so that people feel that this is a space that they can come forward and engage with the health care system...that’s a big issue for us."

Maurice Tomlinson, AIDS Free World
"This is about bringing everybody to the table, not leaving anybody out. Because when you exclude people, that is when you provide an opportunity for harm and hate and disease to spread. And these diseases don’t generally stay within the vulnerable groups."

Pastor Louis Wade Junior
"It is a lie. The evidence shows for example in Belize that HIV and AIDs is driven not by the homosexual community but by the heterosexual community. That is well defined in Belize. It is also well defined throughout the Caribbean."

The pastors refute the argument that laws criminalizing sodomy have a direct relation to HIV prevalence rates.

Louis Wade
"I am talking about statistics in European, in England, in Canada, in the United States, in Sweden. These are places where homosexuals have the most freedom in the world, MSM - they have the most freedom, this is where they are not in the closet. Yet the statistics are showing that the HIV rate continues to rise in their circles."

Pastor Scott Stirm, Jubilee Ministries
"At a United Nations level, they have an agenda, they are people in there that that have an agenda and they are pushing that agenda and one of the things that is fueling some of this in Belize is the financial aid that comes from the European Union is coming with stipulations that you must change these laws or we are going to cut you off financially, 'you won’t get any more assistance from us’ and so that’s one of the factors when we talk about why are people hemming and hawing over this issue, it’s because there’s big bucks behind it."

Caleb Orozco
"They are free to form an opinion; an opinion does not provide the basis for reality. It simply offers an expression or description of an issue. Period."

"Cultural attitude isn’t going to change because of one judgment...because of the misrepresentation of the facts and the fear mongering being sold by the religious politicians. There will be years and years around what really is sexual orientation and to an extent, gender identity and what does that actually mean for the individual."

Janelle Chanona (stand-up)
"In the months leading up to this trial, proponents and opponents of this issue will no doubt campaign heavily in their efforts to help you answer the fundamental question of this case: “Should the state legislate morality?” Because make no mistake, whatever decision is handed down in the courtroom, keeping the status quo or changing attitudes towards sexual minorities will be decided on in the court of public opinion. Reporting for 7News I am Janelle Chanona."

Tune in on Monday night when we’ll have gavel to gavel coverage of Monday’s big case.

Channel 7


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#463791 - 05/07/13 11:05 AM Re: UNIBAM: The Big Issues [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

UNIBAM’s Pre Trial Press Conference

May seventh to the tenth in the courtroom of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is reserved for what’s known as the UNIBAM Case, Caleb Orozco. The Attorney General of Belize which is the gay rights group challenge to section 53 of Belize’s criminal code. That section of the law says, “every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.” UNIBAM says that denies gay men their constitutional right to privacy. That’s the broad outline of a case which has triggered Belize’s first culture war: between those Christians who say that homosexuality is an abomination and the gay rights group which says consenting adults should be free to do as they wish in their private lives.

The case has drawn a constellation of local and international legal luminaries, and today, aware that the court of public opinion is as important as the court of law, Orozco’s group held a pre-trial press conference at the University of the West Indies, Open Campus. Westmin James and Caleb Orozco took questions on the nature of the case, and whether the impetus for it came from international agencies pushing a gay rights lobby.

Caleb Orozco - Executive President, UNIBAM
"For far too long the state has ignored it's LGB's citizens fundamental right and freedom in other lower level lots. It may have immediately removed to individual citizens' prejudices immediately but it's certainly a heck of a debate and a journey to get there."







Westmin James - Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UWI, Cave Hill
"The case is simply what consenting adults can do in the privacy of their bedroom. We petitioned the court to amend section 53 so as to exclude consenting adults from the preview of section 53. It is about Belizean people and the process that it affects and the rights of Belizeans. This is not about anybody else but about Belizeans."

Caleb Orozco
"The same person who accuses us of a foreign agenda just needs to look in the mirror and see what color he is or where is from. I believe he is from Waco, Texas. If you look at the all the evangelical groups at the University of Belize - there are a lot of US Americans who lead evangelical groups so if they want to accuse us of a foreign agenda they just need to look at themselves. It's a pot calling the kettle black. Let me tell you - the US Government and the British Government is not forcing anybody to the supreme court - I am, let's make that very clear. I am forcing the issue to the supreme court. My followers respect the right of it's religious opponent to be 'nutty' on the street and nutty on TV. We have no need to prove that we have more right than our religious opponents. Why? Because we respect the right of our religious opponents to say what they have to say."

Westmin James
"If it is that you discriminate and it is alright to discriminate against LGBT community why is it not alright to discriminate against persons who are overweight or discriminate against persons that have red hair. It's all the same rationale goes on. You cannot determine rights by the majority - we all area entitled to rights, it doesn't matter who you are, race, ethnicity, where you come from, or sexual orientation."

Caleb Orozco
"In 1981, it was Belizeans who approved those fundamental rights and freedom, not Britain, not the US- it was the Belizeans. And as such we decided that all citizens have fundamental rights and freedom. Not except homosexuals, not except fat people, not except disable people and as such we need to recognize that the process is dynamic enough and it allows me to have my say as a minority group. All I'm saying is that it is my right to bring the issue to the court and let's treat the issue fairly - not with the prejudice that it's perceived the discussion deserves."

Orozco is represented by a Belizean, Caribbean and British attorneys, working pro bono. They are led by Trinidadian Senior Counsel, Christopher Hamel-Smith.

Channel 7


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#463792 - 05/07/13 11:10 AM Re: UNIBAM: The Big Issues [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Gay Rights Sits High On This Week's Legal Agenda In Belize

High on the legal agenda for this week is the much-touted case of Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, which is seeking to challenge Section 53 of the Laws of Belize that pertains to sexual conduct.  Today, one of Orozco’s legal representatives, Westmin James, told Love News that this case boils down simply to people’s rights within the privacy of their bedrooms, nothing more and nothing less.

This afternoon, Orozco along with James presented the particulars of the case to the media at a press conference at the UWI Open Campus in Belize City. At the conference they were confronted with the question of whether or not, UNIBAM is following a foreign agenda as is alleged by some parties.  James and Orozco both denied this and shared their views.

WESTMIN JAMES

"This is about Mr. Orozco who is a Belizean and it's about enforcing the Belizean constitution.  It's Mr. Orozco who is the party in this case as well as the Attorney General.  in fact it is UNIBAM which was the party originally to the action which is a local organization; it’s the churches who applied to strike out a local body from the case, from being a party to this case.  It is in fact the churches who did not want this local body to be a part of the case; at first they were successful in removing UNIBAM as a party but then subsequently the court allowed UNIBAM to become an interested party which is the same level as the churches and some of these other organizations.  First of all this is and is only Mr. Orozco, who is the party to this and the claimant is Belizean.  It is about Belizean people and the person it affects and the rights of Belizeans this is not about anybody else but Belizeans."

CALEB OROZCO

"The same person who accuses us of foreign agenda just needs to look into the mirror and see what color he is or where he is from; I believe he's from Waco, Texas and so let’s put it one step further, if you look at all the Evangelical groups at the University of Belize, there are lots of married US Americans who lead Evangelical groups, so if they want to accuse us of a foreign agenda they just need to look at themselves; it’s the pot calling the kettle black.  The other thing is -  foreign agenda, there are thousands and thousands of households in this country that has gay Belizeans.  The issue for the families with gay relatives is not a foreign one, it’s a family centered one and that’s a reason why I brought this case before the court because they themselves know and have experienced prejudice in the streets and around their neighborhoods to know how difficult it is.  I know how difficult it is and so for that criticism to hold water for me, those persons who criticize have no integrity."

In challenging Section 53 of the Laws of Belize, James explained what a win by UNIBAM will implicate.

WESTMIN JAMES

"It certainly goes a long way in combating prejudice and stigma and discrimination, it certainly helps and further more  it certainly helps those person who run under ground because they are a afraid to disclose they sexual orientation for the purposes of receiving medical treatment and so this certainly, because they feel like they are felons because of the law people are entitled to hold their views.  What they are not entitled to do is threaten individuals; they are not entitled to harass individuals because of their sexual orientation or do anything to them.  This is simply about allowing persons to have their fundamental rights just like how those persons have their rights.  It would not change their minds right away but it certainly will go a way in relation to stopping prejudice and discrimination and the harassment and the security threats of the individual.  It is not going to change everybody overnight, no one is saying that but it certainly will be a step in the right direction to uphold the human rights of individuals and there human dignity."

Orozco maintains that it is he who is pushing the issue to the Supreme Court and no foreign Government is forcing him to

CALEB OROZCO

"In 198, it was Belizeans who approved those fundamentals rights and freedom, not Britain not the US but Belizeans and as such we decided that all citizens have fundamental rights and freedom not except homosexuals, not except fat people, not except disabled people and as such we need to recognize that the process is dynamic enough that it allows me to have my say as a minority group, it allows my religious right and allows people to have their say and we move on."

The Supreme Court of Belize will hear arguments tomorrow. Orozco will also be represented by his lead Counsel, Senior Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith a member of the Trinidad and Tobago and Belize BAR, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman and Simeon Sampson.

LOVEFM


UNIBAM’s Caleb says gay case is human rights issue

Caleb Orozco

And from taking offense to giving offense, Orozco reiterated that there is no foreign government at work in this case, and it is a human rights agenda that is dictating his struggle. Orozco also revealed that discrimination is one of the key issues at play in this case.

Caleb Orozco, Claimant

“The US Government and the British Government is not forcing anybody to the Supreme Court. I am. Let’s make that very clear. I am forcing the issue to the Supreme Court. As a note on the issue of discrimination, my good man Giovanni, I am actually am not attracted to fat people. So I could call for discrimination against fat people. There are quite a few pudgy people in this room. So let’s talk about selective discrimination or unjust discrimination. Let’s talk about that. You cannot pick or choose the fundamental rights and freedoms that we have in Belize. In 1981, it was Belizeans who approved those fundamental rights and freedoms—not Britain, not the U.S.; Belizeans. And as such, we decided that all citizens had fundamental rights and freedoms—not except homosexuals, not except fat people, not except disable people. And as such, we need to recognize that that process is dynamic enough that it allows me to have my say as a minority group; it allows my religious right people to have their say and move on. We are having a healthy discussion to agree to disagree and we are moving on. That is what a democracy is all about. And if one cannot respect the other, we are on a slippery slope to discriminate against some other group. All I am is that it is my right to bring the issue to the court and let’s treat the issue fairly and not with the prejudice that is perceived the discussion deserves.”

The trial that is attracting international press begins on Tuesday in the courtroom of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

Channel 5


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