Belize: The lonely fight against Belize’s anti-gay laws

In Belize — a small Anglophone Caribbean nation tucked into the eastern flank of Guatemala and Mexico — “batiman” (Creole for, literally, “butt man”) has long been the supreme slur against gay men, the worst possible insult to their personhood and dignity. But now another slur is beginning to take its place: “Orozco.”

Five years ago, Caleb Orozco’s lawyer walked into the Belize Supreme Court Registry and initiated the first challenge in Caribbean history to the criminalization of sodomy. Caleb Orozco v. the Attorney General of Belize focuses on Section 53, a statute in the criminal code that calls for a 10-year prison term for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” If Orozco won, his supporters hoped, it would establish a moral precedent across the Caribbean and even create a domino effect, pressuring other governments to decriminalize sodomy. But it took 3 years for the Supreme Court to hear the case; 2 years later, the nation still awaits a verdict.

Caleb Orzco is Belize’s most reviled homosexual and its most ostracized citizen, a man whom fundamentalists pray for and passers-by scorn. His weary face is on the evening news and in newspaper caricatures. His name is now a label, one used to remind other gays that they are sinners and public offenders.  Read More