The Constitution of Belize is arguably the most liberal among CARICOM member states. It speaks to all citizens’ inalienable rights; offers protection against discrimination, including sex and gender equality; and enables the court to modify any law that it deems unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Section 53 of the Criminal Code provided 10 years’ imprisonment for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” Like half of similar laws worldwide, this law was a legacy of British colonization.

United Belize Advocacy Movement (UniBAM) is the only national LGBTI advocacy organization. In 2010, UniBAM and its ED, Caleb Orozco, filed a constitutional challenge to Section 53. Grounds included: human dignity, personal privacy, privacy of the home, and equal protection of the law. The case was supported by many allies and was heard in May 2013.

On August 10, 2016, the Supreme Court accepted all grounds of the claim, in a historic, precedent-setting decision: Caleb Orozco v Attorney General of Belize. Sec. 53 was 'read down,' thereby legalizing homosexuality between consenting adults in private. The court also ruled that constitutional protection on the basis of sex includes sexual orientation.

Envisioning's research showed that human rights violations occur because present mechanisms are inadequate in holding perpetrators accountable. Intimidation and discrimination help to perpetuate a level of silence that reinforces mistreatment.

Orozco's response to the decision points to the progress made through activism: "Our judicial system has been proven to be robust and unprejudiced. This judgment should give other oppressed groups the confidence to speak up and stand up for themselves in situations of human rights abuses in the way I have."

Aaron Mai, Norman Bonnell, Abner Recinos:

Keywords: UniBAM; GOBelize; Discrimination; Gay; Activism; Family; Religion; Same-Sex marriage, Social Movement Organizing; Stigma; Media; Resilience; Youth.

Aaron: “I believe that silence is a killer and to become open in the media might also mean my death - but I have surrendered that. I will take a stand for the next generation of Belizeans that are gay, that are coming forth and need to live in a freedom that I have never had in this country.”

Synopsis: Aaron Mai worked to support the Gender Policy legislation in Belize and appeared on national television to raise awareness on LGBT issues. He started a gay support group in his district. Norman Bonnell is a community-based activist who works to create safe spaces for LGBT youth. Abner Recinos works with GOBelize in the field of sexual and reproductive health education. Aaron, Norman and Abner speak about the importance of group organizing and support in promoting equality in life and freedom for the LGBT community in Belize.  They also speak about opposition to equality and oppression from the church and religious community. Fighting against this oppression is central to their activism.

Mia Quetzal:

Keywords: Caribbean Vulnerable Communities; Trans; Transgender; Family; Employment; Religion; Police; Stigma; Resilience; Human Rights; Youth.

Mia: “If the churches would really want to do something good for our country, they would sit down with each village and explain to them what LGBT really means. We’re all humans, we’re all just trying to live our lives.”

Synopsis: Mia Quetzal is a trained medical assistant and ancillary nurse and on the board of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities. She has led research on the transgendered community and worked with Caribbean Trans in Action and United Belize Advocacy Movement (UniBAM). Mia speaks about experiences she has had with her family coming to terms with her identity as a trans woman. She speaks about incidents of persecution she has faced and remembers a group of boys vandalizing her house. She discusses how trans women make a living in her village despite discrimination. She brings attention to incidents where local police discriminate against trans women’s reports. Mia speaks about a desire to see empowerment for the community, especially for the younger generation.