The last two weeks have been a busy time for the new government, but now that ministerial portfolios have been allocated and the Senate nominations are complete, Belizeans are waiting to see what else will unfold in the first hundred days of the new Barrow administration.
There are several pieces of unfinished business which carry over from the previous administration, but one piece in particular should be dealt with immediately. It concerns an old law which prescribes imprisonment of up to 10 years for any person convicted of homosexual intercourse.
In September 2010 an application was brought before the Supreme Court to have the law struck down on grounds that it was unconstitutional. There was an immediate roar of protest by religious and church groups who felt that this was a moral issue of great social and spiritual implications. They did not want to see the matter decided in a purely secular way by a court of law.
Moreover, church groups argued fiercely that this was not a constitutional matter since no constitutional rights were being suppresed or denied.
This was simply the case of an old law that had long fallen into disuse.
There was moreover the danger, and this danger still exists, that if the courts of Belize were to fail to consider the distinction between constitutional rights and personal sexual preference and take the view that homosexual preferences can ever be a matter of constititional right, it would cause great distress and upheaval in the society.
While many Belizeans are tolerant of homosexuals and their practices, to say that they have a constitutional right to do what they do, is a step Belizeans are not prepared to take.
It has been proposed that the Government of Belize should step in and simply abolish the law by legislative action, making the matter fiat accompli in the eyes of the Supreme Court, in this way saving the country from a divisive conflict over so called “homosexual rights.”
The claim that homosexual men have the same rights as heterosexual couples is not a popular notion in Belize. Many regard it as the thin edge of the wedge, paving the way for homosexual marriage and parenthood over adopted children, which would lead to a whole new generation of home-bred homosexual individuals.
The Government of Belize owes it to the people of Belize to anticipate and prevent this kind of potential child exploitation at all costs.