UNIBAM Sits As:
- A Board Member for The Women’s Issues Network
- A Commissioner for The National AIDS Commission
- A Board Member for The Commonwealth Equality Network
- A member of an LGBT OAS Coalition since 2007
Additional Work of UNIBAM
- UNIBAM conducts legal research on Belizean Law as it affects LGBT citizens.
- UNIBAM documents violence and discrimination through news coverage and first-person interviews.
- UNIBAM conducts security and legal education workshops with the LGBT community.
- UNIBAM uses the UN Human Rights System to highlight discriminatory laws and violence in Belize.
- UNIBAM builds leadership capacity among the LGBT community.
- UNIBAM provides public education with regard to HIV, distribution of HIV preventatives and referral services for gay men with living with HIV.
A milestone in the fight for human rights was reached on Tuesday May 7, 2013, when the Supreme Court of Belize heard arguments in the long-anticipated case of Caleb Orozco v. The Attorney General of Belize.
The Claimant in the case is Caleb Orozco, Executive Director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), which provides health education and other services primarily to men who have sex with men, and seeks to safeguard their basic human rights. Orozco, a long-time activist for the rights of sexual minorities and HIV/AIDS vulnerable communities, has worked for years to eradicate stigma through local, regional, and international forums, such as the Better Business Bureau, the National AIDS Commission, the OAS and the UN High Commission for Human Rights.
Orozco is represented by a distinguished team of Belizean and Caribbean attorneys, working on a pro bono basis, led by Senior Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith, a member of the Trinidad and Tobago and Belize Bar under the auspices of the Faculty of Law UWI Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP), and other counsel.
Orozco is arguing that section 53 of the Criminal Code, by criminalizing sexual activities between consenting adults, contravenes various provisions of the Constitution that protect human dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms.
“The very existence of this law directly affects their private lives, since they must either abstain from engaging in sexual acts to which they are disposed by reason of their homosexuality or become liable to criminal prosecution,” says Christopher Hamel-Smith, Lead Counsel for the Claimant. “Even when unenforced, Section 53 reduces gay men to the status of being ‘unapprehended criminals’. It entrenches stigma, undermines self-worth and encourages discrimination.”
The groundswell for protection of the rights of sexual minorities has risen in Belize, with prominent Belizeans vocally supporting the We Are One In Dignity and Rights Campaign. UNIBAM is joined in solidarity by local supporters, champions, and civil society actors including Generation Zero, a Belizean movement constituted of diverse agencies committed to using a rights-based approach to reduce HIV related stigma and discrimination.