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#517437 - 09/10/16 05:47 AM GOB Will Appeal Part of Section 53 Judgment
Marty Offline

The Christian Concession

On Monday, the Prime Minister met with Church leaders to discuss the appeal of the Chief Justice's Section 53 judgement. Some of the Churches want a full appeal, but the Prime Minister made it clear that his Government is only prepared to make a narrow appeal of the Chief Justice's interpretation of the word "sex" to the constitution to mean "sexual orientation".

Both sides agreed to return to their constituents and then come back for a follow up meeting today. That happened today, and after 2 hours of discussion, the two sides came out and held a joint press conference. The news coming out of the meeting is that the Government of Belize is ready to launch an appeal of the section 53 judgment. Now government says it's not a full appeal, and that it's an important differentiation for the churches and which is why the Prime Minister says he's going to challenge it:...

Rt., Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"I am very pleased to be able to report that we had an extremely, I would say, Pastor Lance, extraordinary successful meeting, out of which there is agreement as follows: Government will appeal the aspect of the Chief Justice's decision which extends or expands the definition of "sex" in the constitution to include "sexual orientation." As you know that is in the context of the constitutional protection to non-discrimination. That position government came to after an extensive review of the judgement and the advice of the attorney general. From the time of the Monday meeting we had communicated to the churches that we were prepared to appeal on that limited ground." And while the differentiation between the words "sex" and "sexual orientation" may be important, such an appeal would also open the door for an interested party to challenge to the other substantial part of the judgment, which is the de-criminalization of anal sex between adults. Now that not academic at all, that's the really controversial part of the judgment which has many Christian fundamentalists in an uproar. Today the PM conceded that Government's appeal does open the door to that:...

Rt., Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"Government's appeal on the limited basis, government's appeal of just the one aspect of the ruling that has to do with the extension of the definition of word "sex" in fact opens the door to all who are interested parties in the court below to make submissions across the board. The Roman Catholics as an interested party can now make submissions in the appeal and they can go beyond where government is prepared to go. Because I repeat, government is limiting itself to only one aspect for challenge and government does not want to see the decriminalization of section 53 reversed. But, we are happy that we have open the door so that those that feel very strongly different from us can have a chance to argue their case and ventilate their position. We've look at the law and the learning says quite clearly that even where government does not believe in an appeal, if the point in issue is one of fundamental importance about which the society is sharply divided, the public interest actually might require government to facilitate the ventilation of that view that's different from government's view."

But, as viewers will remember, a month ago, the Prime Minister very strongly asserted that the Church, or any member of the public for that matter, need only approach the court and prove that the judgement affects them. He said If they were able to do that, they would be able to appeal the judgement themselves. To show what a difference 4 weeks can make in public life, here now are those remarks from August 17th.:

FILE: August 17, 2016
Rt., Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize

"No sir, you are perfectly free to apply to court to be given leave to appeal. As I understand it, you need not even have been an interested party to be able to get leave to appeal. As long as you can show that the decision of the court affects you, you are entitled to apply for leave to appeal. In this case, because you were interested parties, it strikes me that you are almost immediately and automatically there."

Churches Cheer As PM Placates

And what accounts for the reversal of position from then to now? Maybe we can call it the moral suasion of the various church bodies: between the mainline churches and the evangelical groups, they used both soft and hard power, public demonstrations and quiet diplomacy to bring the government around. And today, these Christian soldiers cheered the government for making the compromise:...

Bishop Philip Wright, Anglican Diocese of Belize
"The Anglican Diocese, we were an interested party in the whole case and perhaps one of the ways to understand why we're where we are is because we were interested party, we recognize the implications of the verdict of a case such as this. Our church does not intend to appeal the decision of the Chief Justice in total. But in saying that we also made known that we continue to have an interest in parts of that decision."

Pastor Lance Lewis, President - NEAB
"The government will appeal section 53 in the area of 'sex equals male and female and not sexual orientation', but the big thing for us is that we agree with that. But now he has opened the door for the Roman Catholic Church and we are an interested party too to appeal section 53. That was a very big opening because we have always wanted the case to be appealed, I don't know if the government will provide the money, but we are glad that it is open now for us."

Patrick Menzies, President - Spanish Church's Alliance of Ministers and Leaders
"We expected a better result from today but the appealing opens some good doors that will give opportunity to clarify a lot of things to include who decides morality and stuff like that in the country."

Rev. Roosevelt Papouloute - Methodist Church
"Legally speaking, the Methodist church was not an interested part in the case because at the time, we're not in a position to do that but of course the Methodist church is an interested part in it and has to do with the well-being of the community. following the ruling of the Chief Justice, the Methodist Church has decided, based on proper advice, that we will not encourage our support in the appeal of the case, but of course like some other branches of the church, we also have a concern if the definition or interpretation of the Chief Justice in relation to the word 'sex'."

Rising Down, GOB Agrees To “Church State Commission on Public Morality.”

And in a move that is sure to make the LBGT community wince in distress, the Barrow Administration has gone one step further in its renewed partnership with the churches. Government has agreed to set up a "Church State Commission on Public Morality. " Now, if this sounds like some Orwellian concoction, the Prime Minister today told the media that it's not anything that serious, just a logical continuation of their dialog from Monday and today:...

Rt., Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"We will set up a church state commission to be cheered by the Deputy Prime Minister to in fact look at issues having to do with public morality and its role in our society, having to do with the institution of marriage and safeguarding that institution. Government believes, it's a shared position of all of us that marriage is between a man and a woman. The whole question of how to protect family values in an inclusive society. All those weighty matters would be within the provenance of the work of the commission which would undertake studies guided by lawyers and which will consult the general public."

Bishop Philip Wright, Anglican Diocese of Belize
"One of the things that matters a lot to us is the whole idea of public morality and who ultimately determines that. We whole heartedly welcome this idea of a church state commission to continue to look at issues that affect us as a people."

Pastor Lance Lewis, President - NEAB
"We thought that the cabinet would have accepted the removal of the gender policy but they said no to that according to what the Prime Minister said, but now this will come under the commission for public morality."

Patrick Menzies, President - Spanish Church's Alliance of Ministers and Leaders
"We see here the genuine part of government where it has been decided that this month on the 25th of September will be the first meeting. so I don't see this as a point in time and something I need to commend the prime minister on the fact that on Monday I saw the government as not being the problem of pushing things back, I saw the government as being ready to actually take the bull by the horns and that was something that I hadn't seen."

Bishop Roosevelt Papouloute - Methodist Church
"We are also in support of that church state commission to look at the implications that they willingly have on society in general and we are on board with that first part of the work that is being said to begin on the 26th of September."

Caleb/UNIBAM Wants To Be On Morality Commission

But no one is going to police Caleb Orozco's morality. He today stressed that as a citizen he is entitled to certain inalienable individual rights. He added that if the Government is determined to be fair, the Prime Minister will invite him and members of UNIBAM as members this Church State Commission:...

Daniel Ortiz, 7news
"You and your lifestyle is considered very much outside what is considered morally right in this church environment, so why would they want to invite you and your organization as a member to make your concerns heard?"

Caleb Orozco - UNIBAM
"If we still live under the ideals of the constitution which recognizes the diversity of groups, it's only fair to invite the most marginalized to the table to carry out a dialogue which benefits all Belizeans. If we were to be excluded, then it is important to remember that the ministers, be religious and political have their own moral closet which they need to look into and I need not speak very hard or too far about what their issues are. If it's a process of building peace and understanding and its value about building peace and understanding, we will be included without question."

Orozco tells us that he is waiting for the Prime Minister to invite him to a meeting, the very same way that he granted a church that audience. The Prime Minister told us at the press conference he is prepared to grant that meeting. He also added that a working group for this Church State Commission should meet on September 26, to determine the terms of reference for this new commission. Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber will head this commission.

Churches Cheer, Caleb Jeers

And while the churches cheered for the PM today, Orozco and the LBGT community is in more of a mood to jeer. Three weeks ago when government said it wouldn't appeal, they were the ones doing the cheering, and today UNIBAM President Caleb Orozco told us that he is prepared for round 2...

Caleb Orozco - UNIBAM
"Philosophical, it was expected of this that he would consider the narrow effort in clarifying the term 'sex' and that he would sought to appease the religious lobby that was before him. While I'm disappointed that his word is difficult to embrace within any confidence, I'm also cautiously optimistic that he is able to navigate the process in such a way that ideals of our constitution is not thrown under the bus."

Daniel Ortiz, 7news
"Were you hoping that he would hold out against the churches?"

Caleb Orozco - UNIBAM
"I am always hopeful that a politician would defend basic principle and decency about what their word means. The reality is that he had to deal with fanatical thinking, he had to deal with a set of people who had no understanding of the law."

Daniel Ortiz, 7news
"It also opens the door for a direct challenge of the victory that you had so hard lobbied for and hard earned. There's a chance that it can be overturned, what's your thinking on that?"

Caleb Orozco - UNIBAM
"When a person like me has been marginalized for over 2 decades and live in a state which does not acknowledge my concern, fighting is a normal part of the process. All I can say as claimant, I'm ready for round 2 and let the fight begin."

Channel 7

#517446 - 09/10/16 11:48 AM Re: GOB Will Appeal Part of Section 53 Judgment [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Morality Commission? I know many of these people mentioned and quoted above and know plenty crap they have done. So marriage is between a man and how many women? Dean, your back broke!
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