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Feb 2, 2018

The Section 53 Appeal: Are Catholics Out?

Could the Government of Belize end up going it alone in the upcoming appeal of the August tenth, 2016 judgment of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin regarding the amendment of Section fifty-three of the Criminal Code? Following the momentous decision outlawing sexual acts other than consensual heterosexual intercourse, between man and woman, various church groups loudly expressed their disappointment with the decision. But one by one, the Belize Council of Churches; Belize Association of Evangelical Churches; and Belize Church of England-Corporate Body, also called the Anglicans, dropped out, and the National Evangelical Association of Belize was denied entry into the case in October, 2016. Only the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Attorney General in part will be appealing. But the former’s participation is now in doubt after its legal representative requested to be removed from the case at a status conference before the Court of Appeal this morning. Case litigant Caleb Orozco told us more.

 

Caleb Orozco

Caleb Orozco, Case Litigant

“The Court decided to err cautiously and allow the Catholic Church to define its intentions with regard to whether it would continue in this case or not. What happened also is that the Catholic Church lost its legal representation, and that was noted when its legal representation asked the court to remove his name from the case. With that said, the case management process fell apart, and work has to be done to help the Catholic Church define its intentions within the next few weeks or couple of months so that we can move forward to establishing a date for the substantive arguments. They have not issued a communication, a notice, a letter; they have not indicated to the court new legal representation and so, because they are silent so far, we are at a stall in regard to proceeding to substantive arguments. The effort is a partial appeal based on sex and freedom of expression by the State, and the Catholic Church is, was, their intention was to appeal the case in its entirety.”

 

Orozco continues to be represented by Belizean Senior Counsels Lisa Shoman and Simeon Sampson and Trinidadian Queen’s Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith.

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