St. John’s Antigua- Interests in Antigua & Barbuda are quietly but keenly monitoring the judicial review of the buggery law in Belize.
Oral arguments in the matter, which was initiated by the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), are scheduled to be heard in early December, a press release from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) said.
The press release noted that the leaders of more than 20 Caribbean organisations representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community have pledged support to their Belizean counterparts.
More than being an issue in Belize, the regional LGBT community and advocates see it as a test case for the Caribbean, which has anti-sodomy laws.
Tracy Robinson, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, UWI, Mona was quoted in the CVC release as saying, “the sodomy or buggery laws undoubtedly affect LGBTs disproportionately, but they also criminalise sexual activities between consenting adults who are heterosexual.
“Some argue that because the law is rarely enforced against consenting adults it poses little harm. But it has been shown that the continued existence of the laws is used by some to sanction their violence against LGBTs results in LGBT people fearing the police and not reporting serious crimes against them and impedes meaningful access to health care and other services to prevent and treat HIV,” Robinson said.
Across the region, people have been speaking out, with Colin Robinson of the Trinidad-based Coalition for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) saying his group would be “relentless” in trying to change the legislation in the different states.
CVC Co-Chair Dr Marcus Day said, “CVC has a mandate and commitment to preserve the rights and dignity of populations that are marginalised and do not have voice in the national and regional dialogue and whose rights are regularly trampled on. We are, therefore, driven by a strong human rights framework.
“To have laws that criminalise person in same-sex relations really and truly negate the human rights of this population. This cannot be allowed to continue,” Dr Day said.
CVC has representatives in Antigua, but one rep who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of backlash, said it is foolhardy for the local LGBT community to make any public statement.
“CVC is very clear that, in country, unless you have that manpower on the ground ready to move forward, don’t do anything. Let sleeping dogs lie, because life and existence as people know it is at risk, and speaking out can create havoc and put persons who are already vulnerable in the society and who we are trying to help at more risk. It can do more harm then good. These are one of those times when silence is the best option,” the CVC representative said.
The local MSM (men who have sex with men) community that is identifiable numbers about 200, the source said. But the point was made that there are many more persons who have not disclosed publicly, owing to myriad factors, including fear of stigma and discrimination.
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