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Churches condemn US Embassy release on sodomy laws

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

This week the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches condemned a statement issued by the Embassy of the United States in Belize, which called for the repealing of Belize’s anti-sodomy laws.

In a release issued on Wednesday, the association, which represents 250 churches, emphasized that dealing with issues relating to legislation is a matter for the people of Belize to decide and not any of the country’s international partners.

“Belize, as a sovereign nation with its own Constitution, has the right and responsibility to determine its own laws and moral standards by which we as a nation shall live,” the BAEC said.

The association underscored that it condemns all acts of violence against Belizean citizens, even against those of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community; however, it upholds that section 53 of the criminal code is legislation that has been used to prosecute sexual abuse cases particularly against minors and should therefore, in the public interest, not be repealed.

The BAEC also said that the processes of determination belong to the people of Belize alone, and no nation, large or small, has the right to manipulate, coerce, or interfere in those processes of another nation.
The association is calling on the Government of Belize to take the issue of section 53 to a national referendum and to make the changes to the national gender policy as agreed to earlier this year.

On November 16 the US Embassy issued a statement highlighting that while Belize has made good strides towards being more inclusive to human rights for all its citizens, its efforts towards the LGBT community has been lacking.

The embassy’s statement included five points of recommendations to the government on how to strengthen the human rights efforts in Belize, including building the capacity within the judicial system to recognize and protect the rights of members of vulnerable populations, including LGBT persons, indigenous peoples, and women and girls, and that GOB uphold the Revised National Gender Policy to better respect and protect equal protection under the law.

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