Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rev. Louis Farrakhan: Protect Central America's remaining anti-gay sodomy statute

Sodomy laws banning sexual activity between two consenting adults of the same-gender have mostly disappeared from the entire American continent and the two countries that still enshrine such discriminatory laws in their books could very well scrap them this year.

The South American nation of Guyana is reported to be considering abolishing the law altogether (although there has been little movement since those reports emerged last summer) and Belize will face the issue in May when the Central American nation's Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the law.

Although those who defend the laws argue that they are meant to protect local customs and morals these shameful laws can actually be traced back to British colonial rule.  But the notion that homosexuality is foreign to their cultures and that powerful imperialist nations are trying to impose their immorality by pressuring to repeal these laws has resonance with large swaths of the population.

Which brings us to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The fiery American preacher is not exactly known for being gay-friendly and in May he riled against Barack Obama after the president came out in favor of same-sex marriage calling him "the first president that sanctioned what the scriptures forbid."

Last week found Farrakhan visiting Belize at the invitation of some of the same religious leaders who are calling for the Supreme Court to let the current sodomy law remain standing. Conservative Christian television network Plus TV captured his response.

His comment:
How many of you see same-sex marriage and are falling for the pressure that's being put on government to sanction something that God don't sanction. America is attaching aid to you rewriting your constitution, rewriting your laws and because you become a whore for money and forsaken the principles and yet you put your hand on the Bible when you take your oath of office. For what?
Caleb Orozco
Let's be clear here: Although local LGBT advocates would like their relationships to be legally recognized, same sex marriage is not at play when the Belize Supreme Court takes up the issue of the sodomy laws in May. He also falsely alleges that aid from the United States will be cut unless laws are changed to accommodate gays and lesbians.

What Farrakhan is doing is urging legislators to keep a law that punishes and jails gay Belize citizens for who they are. Nothing less, nothing more.

Caleb Orozco, the most visible openly gay advocate in Belize, says it will be an uphill battle to get the Supreme Court to strike down the sodomy laws but he has hope that they will rule on the right side of history.  The organization he leads, the United Belize Advocacy Movement, was the entity that brought a challenge to the nation's sodomy statute before the Supreme Court back in 2010.

His visibility has brought some risk. In February of 2012 he was assaulted and hit with a beer bottle. United Nations rapporteurs Frank La Rue and Margaret Sekaggya stepped in back in August after local authorities seemed to dismiss the attack and asked the Belize government to explain their apparent inaction.

To my knowledge, Orozco will be the only openly gay person to be allowed to present arguments against the Belize sodomy statutes when the Supreme Court holds their hearings in May.

Orozco has said that it will be an uphill battle for the Court to strike down the laws but that he still has hope that it will rule on the right side of history.

In this video from 2012, Orozco and other members of the United Belize Advocacy Movement, talk about the reason they launched a "dignity rights" campaign.

It begs the question: Who is Farrakhan standing for? The politically powerful right wing churches that invited him to visit Belize? Or the disenfranchised and legally unrecognized LGBT community in Belize whose own government would rather deny they exist.


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