August 18, 2016 at 11:36 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Belize government won’t appeal sodomy law ruling

Dean Barrow, Belize, gay news, Washington Blade

Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow (Photo by Agencia Brasil; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The government of Belize on Wednesday announced it will not appeal a landmark court ruling that found the country’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

Local media reported Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Attorney General Vanessa Retreage made the announcement at a press conference in Belize City.

“(The government of Belize) will not tolerate hate speech or actions against other people due to differences,” said Retreage.

The press conference took place a week after Belize Supreme Court Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled Section 53 of the Central American country’s legal code is unconstitutional.

Belizean first lady Kim Simplis Barrow applauded the ruling. LGBT rights advocates with whom the Washington Blade spoke this week said the decision could bolster efforts to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations throughout the English-speaking Caribbean.

Those who seek to challenge the ruling have until Aug. 31 to formally appeal it.

Barrow on Wednesday said churches and other groups that opposed the lawsuit against the sodomy law that prominent activist Caleb Orozco filed in 2010 could challenge Benjamin’s ruling. Scott Strim, an American pastor who heads Belize Action, an anti-LGBT group, told a local radio station that his organization does not have the ability to appeal the decision under Belizean law.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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