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Aug 17, 2016

Barrow Says Churches Can Appeal Section 53 Decision

Dean Barrow

As we’ve mentioned, Bishops Dorick Wright and Christopher Glancy, on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, wrote to Prime Minister Barrow urging government to appeal the decision of the Supreme Court.  Likewise, the National Evangelical Association of Belize wrote to the PM requesting an appeal.  Neither was fruitful in convincing government to elevate the matter to the Court of Appeal.  In its letter, the Catholic bishops cited that the church and the state should not be opposed as it relates to the issue of Section Fifty-three.  Furthermore it reiterates a shared responsibility to ensure the protection of the moral pillars that buttress Belize’s democracy.  


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Obviously the Roman Catholic bishops were not aware of the position.  They say to me that I am to appeal the Supreme Court decision in the case of Caleb Orozco and the Attorney General and they go on to say, “As you are aware the Church participated in this case as interested party and as such has no standing to bring an appeal.  That power lies strictly within the purview of the Government of Belize.  We trust that in discharging your duties as the prime minister of our nation you will protect and preserve the collective conscience of all our people and not a select few.”  Well the attorney general has just said, it is not the position that the churches cannot on their own bring an appeal.  It is important because the letter from the National Evangelical Association of Belize also seems to misunderstand the situation.  They say, “Greetings, we are writing concerning Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin’s recent ruling on Section Fifty-three of the Criminal Code, the sodomy law of Belize.  We are requesting you to appeal the Chief Justice’s ruling, as well as enter an appeal for the church as an interested party in this case.”  No sirs, you are perfectly free to apply to court to be given leave to appeal.  As I understand it, you need not even have been an interested party to be able to get leave to appeal, as long as you can show that the decision of the court affects you, you are entitled to apply for leave to appeal.  In this case, because you were interested parties.  It strikes me that you are almost immediately and automatically there, I don’t think that it is that you can appeal without applying for leave to appeal but I need to say to you and to the Roman Catholics that that was part of the matrix of considerations that Cabinet took onboard when it made its decision not to appeal.  We know how strongly you feel about this issue, the fact is you can appeal.  Government does not see that on the merits an appeal would succeed and so based on our legal advice we are not going to appeal.”

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