Church holds discussion on UNIBAM
The debate is heating up on a legal challenge on homosexuality. In two weeks litigation in a novel case brought against the Attorney General’s Office by Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, to decriminalize homosexuality is set to begin in the Supreme Court. Represented by a team of prominent lawyers, including senior counsels Rodwell Williams and Eamon Courtenay, the Belize Council of Churches, which has aligned itself with the Government of Belize, has been named an interested party in the forthcoming case. Its argument is that by undoing Section Fifty-Three of the Laws of Belize that currently prohibits carnal intercourse against the order of nature; the repeal will give rise to gay rights. A coalition within the Council of Churches, known as the Belize Action Group, has organized a family focus forum for Wednesday seeking to educate members of the public, as well those of the clergy, on the potential impact of abrogating the law. According to Canon Leroy Flowers the open discussion is intended to create awareness on the issue before it goes to trial.
Canon Leroy Flowers, President, Council of Churches
“Tomorrow the Belize Action Group is pulling together a group of what we call professionals to help to address this issue of the UNIBAM case against the government, of which the church has now become an interested party, and we’ll be looking at from the scriptural, from the medical [and] from the social aspect of what this implies as far as we are concerned and how this can impact our people. And it is an awareness program, it is for Belizean citizens across the land to be more informed because one of the things that we’ve got to recognize is that this is a very emotionally charged debate. As church leaders in particular we have got to lower the rhetoric and deal with the facts, help our people to understand what it is we are debating.”
“In terms of what is taking place within the society, this is a highly charged moral argument one may say. In terms of where the church stands the position has been unwavering.”
Canon Leroy Flowers
“Yes the church has made itself perfectly clear because while every Belizean as a citizen claims [that] the constitution is its bible, for the Christian church the bible is our constitution and that is our path to the way by which we get to Christ and so our understanding is that we will not waiver because what we are dealing with in reality is about sin. And while Jesus despised the sin he loves the sinner and the church has got to be able to strike this, if you want to say, this happy medium in helping people to understand what is wrong and how the Lord loves them and rescues them in this process. And that is what we are seeking to do, it is not about bashing anybody or gay bashing in any way or trying to rile up our people but it’s really to get into a dialogue.”
As we’ve mentioned UNIBAM is being represented by Queen’s Counsel Peter Goldsmith, as well as senior counsels Godfrey Smith and Lisa Shoman. Goldsmith is the head of a newly formed British legal rights group known as the Human Dignity Trust which will be challenging homophobic laws within eighty predominantly Commonwealth countries where consensual sexual activity between gays and lesbians is banned.