Major victory for LGBT persons in the Caribbean. Prohibition on sex discrimination in Constitution of Belize held to include prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination; criminalisation of homosexuality in breach of rights to non-discrimination and freedom of expression as well as other fundamental rights.
On 30 December 2019 the Court of Appeal of Belize (JA Awich, JA Ducille and JA Campbell) upheld the earlier 2016 decision of the Chief Justice of Belize finding the criminalisation of homosexual conduct to breach the prohibition on sex discrimination set out in the Constitution of Belize.
The Court also held that such criminalisation breached the right to freedom of expression enjoyed by all LGBT persons and endorsed the earlier findings of the Chief Justice that criminalisation violated the rights to privacy, dignity and equality before the law, all protected by the Constitution.
Drawing upon a wide range of international and comparative law decisions the Court of Appeal became the first appellate tribunal in the Caribbean to reach these conclusions.
The successful Claimant in the case - Caleb Orozco - was represented by Christopher Hamel Smith SC, Lisa Shoman SC and Professor Westmin James.
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Human Dignity Trust and the International Commission of Jurists intervened in the case in support of Mr Orozco by both written and oral submissions at both first instance and in the Court of Appeal. They were represented at first instance by Lord Goldsmith QC, Godfrey Smith SC (former Attorney General of Belize), Timothy Otty QC and Tristan Jones, both of Blackstone Chambers, and Debevoise Plimpton LLP, and in the Court of Appeal by Timothy Otty QC and Debevoise Plimpton LLP.
The Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here.