This afternoon, exactly one week after the landmark ruling was handed down inside the Supreme Court in Belize City by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, which amended Section 53 of the Criminal Code, the government of Belize for the first time since the ruling provided its much awaited position on the matter. Among members of the Evangelical community, members of Government and a large group of the LGBT community, Attorney General, Minister Vanessa Retreage, announced Governments decision to refrain from appealing the controversial ruling.
Honorable Vanessa Retreage – Attorney General Minister
“The government in considering whether it would appeal embarked in this sober exercise for itself and found the following to be the findings of the Honorable Chief Justice; (1) that consensual sexual acts between adults in private is no longer a crime and (2) that the constitution as it now reads without any amendment should be interpreted so as to prevent discrimination against any person as a result of that person’s sexual orientation, those are the very narrow and very limited findings of the Chief Justice, the government has closely consider the option of appealing and has sought legal advice as to the possible merits and benefits of appealing, in this regard it is noted that there were seven interested organizations which argued the case apart from the claimant and the government with no less than fifteen attorneys representing them. Government is therefore satisfied that the case was properly argued and does not see any aspect of the decision that would benefit from further argument and as such has taken the decision not to appeal, it is also conscious that the option of appealing is open to one or more of the interested parties and it is not the government intent to influence or in any way preclude any legal steps which others may consider that they wish to pursue, the government is however satisfied that it must not appeal simply for the sake of appealing but to ensure that it actions best serves in the interest of the Belizean people, the court has decided that Section 53 which was challenges was a law which criminalize private sexual conduct between consenting adults and therefore discriminated against the right to privacy and dignity, the government respects that decision and finding.”
And in explaining the reason behind the decision taken not to appeal….Prime Minister Dean Barrow added that the matter was extensively discussed inside cabinet and even though not all Cabinet Ministers were in agreement about the actual ruling, the decision not to appeal was a unanimous one.
Rt. Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize
“The position we have taken was come to after a very spirited debate was had among members of Cabinet and they are no different from the wider society and this issue has attracted different opinions that are fiercely held, Cabinet therefore once it to be made absolutely clear that the position taken is driven principally by what the Honorable Attorney General has said, considered examination of the legal merits of otherwise of an appeal, in other words there are many members of cabinet who would want to make clear that their support of decision taken must be placed on that narrow legal context, it should not be interpreted as any blanket support for LGBT positions similarly there are members of Cabinet who do support those positions and that is why it is so important to make clear that where Cabinet comes together and is prepare to act as one in a united fashion is on this question of the legal merits of the decision given by the honorable Chief Justice.”
Complainant in the case, Caleb Orosco, was present for this afternoon’s announcement. As expected he was more than pleased with Government’s decision not to appeal the new criminal code.
“He simply reacted constructively and responsively as a government should to the needs of its citizens, no more no less.”
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