UN rapporteur defends Caleb Orozco’s human rights

Caleb Orozco has become the most recognizable face of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), which is the group leading the debate for human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people; and now a Special Rapporteur of the United National High Commission for Human rights has stepped in to champion his cause.

Frank La Rue and Margaret Sekaggya, special rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the situation of human rights defenders, have written to the government of Belize, through Belize’s ambassador to the U.N., to request information on the progress (or lack thereof) of the police investigation into the attack on Orozco, in which someone threw an empty beer bottle at Orozco’s head on George Street on February 8 this year, bruising his face and damaging his teeth.

Orozco had reported the matter to the Police and to the local media but very little came of it. Now the special rapporteurs are requesting the details and results of any police investigation and judicial inquiry into the attack.

The letter notes that the police were unable to identify Orozco’s attackers at the time, and inquired if anyone had been prosecuted and whether the alleged attackers had been punished in any way.

The rapporteurs also ask what protective measures are being afforded to Orosco to allow him to proceed with his legitimate activities in defence of human rights.

The UNIBAM movement had lodged an action in the Supreme Court in September 2010 challenging section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code, in that it violates several provisions of the Belizean Constitution because it disproportionately harms sexual minorities in Belize.

Section 53 reads: “Every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

The case wasset to go to court in February 2011, but was delayed when other interested parties joined the court action on both sides of the argument. Hearings began in July, but it was further adjourned and the matter is still before the court.

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