An activist suing to end Belize’s beyond-outdated ban on same-sex sexual activity has been subjected to an escalating pattern of death threats as his case comes closer to resolution, according to report in The Guardian.
Caleb Orozco is an openly gay man in a country that criminalizes his existence. Belizean law says 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;” the statute defines sex between between consenting same-sex adults as being one such unnatural act. Orozco and his organization (the United Belize Advocacy Movement) succeeding in pushing a legal case against the ban on same-sex activity to the nation’s highest court on Wednesday.
As the Central American nation’s most visible campaigner for LGBT equality, Orozco has received death threats before. Last year, Orozco “suffered a violent physical assault which required extensive dental surgery.” But as the legal argument continues, the threats have gotten more vicious:
Death threats against Caleb Orozco, the gay rights campaigner attempting to overturn laws that criminalise homosexuality in Belize, have escalated during the four-day courtroom hearing, his lawyer has claimed.
The high-profile challenge to the Caribbean state’s colonial-era “anti-buggery” legislation has stirred up resentment of the gay community, according to Lisa Shoman.
“There has been a visible increase of threats and violence against Mr Orozco and against all homosexuals in Belize,” she told the local News 5 TV channel in the capital Belize City.
“There are threats for killing, burning, shooting; you name it. It has to stop. We are all Belizeans. We can agree to disagree without getting violent about it.”
Even in a part of the world that’s not known for being ahead of the curve on LGBT rights, Belize’s law marks it as an unusually bad place to be gay. While neighboring Mexico has constitutionally mandated marriage equality, the LGBT communities in Belize’s other neighbors — Honduras and Guatemala — have been frequent targets of anti-gay discrimination and violence. But even those two countries don’t ban same-sex sexual activity.
The most prominent defender of Belize’s law is Scott Stirm, an American pastor who runs the anti-gay group Belize Action. According to the Guardian, he defends the ban as “a good law that protects human dignity.”