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Aug 18, 2016

P.M. Barrow: Government Did Not Change Section 53

Dean Barrow

Section Fifty-three of the Criminal Code, its interpretation, as well as the ramifications of the newly modified piece of legislation, remains a trending topic in public discourse.  Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, following a lengthy deliberation, has ruled that the law prohibiting carnal intercourse against the order of nature, which includes anal sex between consenting adults, is unconstitutional since it impinges on the right to privacy.  The Government of Belize has subsequently announced that it will not appeal the decision of the Supreme Court.  That position flies in the face of a century-old church/state relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and government.  The church, viewers would recall, signed on as an interested party and joined the Attorney General in defending the preservation of Section Fifty-three which was being challenged by gay rights activist Caleb Orozco.  In the wake of the controversial judgment which was delivered in favor of Orozco, there has been quite some confusion regarding the amended law.  Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in a press conference held on Wednesday, acknowledged the ruling of the high court, much to the displeasure of the church.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The Chief Justice found that that section, except by reading it down, is against the constitution of the country which is the supreme law, that is the role of the Chief Justice, that is the function of the judiciary in our society.  A pastor said to me [that] the Chief Justice amended the constitution, he did no such thing.  He amended Section Fifty-three and he interpreted the constitution with respect to one provision in a certain way, but again as the attorney general has said that is the role of the judiciary.  That is the function of the courts in our constitutional democracy.  So disagree with it all you like, and that is also your right in a democracy, but please do not say it is what it is not and please do not say that it is the government.  We fought the case [and] we have to pay costs you know, not any; that is what I would want to appeal.  The Chief Justice ordered costs only against the government.  The churches which filed these copious, voluminous briefs don’t have to pay anything and then the National Evangelical Association [of Belize] says I must file an appeal on their behalf.  Anyway, the question of costs is really secondary but it is to make this point that we were, the attorney general was the defendant, the government fought to uphold Section Fifty-three whether rightly or wrongly.  The government fought to uphold Section Fifty-three but the courts in pursuance of their legitimate and mandated function found that Section Fifty-three is unconstitutional.  Government must respect that but don’t say that that means that it’s the government that changed the law.”

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1 Response for “P.M. Barrow: Government Did Not Change Section 53”


    How can we ask that Section 53 be appealed by people who endorses such nastiness. There are a lot of people in high places that are in the closet and cut both ways so the change of Section 53 is right up their alley just in case they are caught. Remember, what you do in the dark shall come to light.

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