The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Attorney General of Belize v Caleb Orozco. On 30 December 2019, the three-judge bench dismissed the government's limited appeal, upholding the decision of the Chief Justice in 2016 that Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code contravenes the constitutional rights to dignity, equality before the law, privacy, freedom of expression and non-discrimination on the grounds of sex. Importantly, Justice Samuel Lungole-Awich notes in the judgment that the Chief Justice did not exceed the Supreme Court's power in 2016 when he assigned the meaning 'sexual orientation' to the word 'sex' in the anti-discrimination section of the Belize Constitution.
This report, commissioned by the Human Dignity Trust on behalf of the Equality & Justice Alliance, lays out criteria for good practice human rights compliant laws across four areas of sexual offences legislation, namely rape/sexual assault, age of consent for sexual conduct, treatment of consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults, and sexual offences in relation to people with disability. The purpose of this report is to inform, inspire and aid reform of discriminatory and harmful laws on sexual offences in member states of the Commonwealth. The study will assist Commonwealth countries that are seeking to reform their sexual offences laws by providing models of ‘good practice’ laws from other Commonwealth countries across all regions of the world.
This synopsis briefly draws together the lessons learned from each of six individual case studies of countries that have undertaken the reform of discriminatory sexual offences laws and compares and contrasts the different models of change. The case study series includes examples of both wholesale updating of criminal codes, allowing multiple issues to be tackled together, and targeted legislative reforms. By showcasing these examples, it is hoped that other countries can be inspired and assisted to undertake similar reforms.
This case study provides an in depth analysis of the significant leap forward taken by Palau in protecting the rights of its citizens, through the updating of its sexual offences laws and criminal code. Significant changes to the country’s sexual offences laws and domestic violence framework were achieved by the enactment of the Family Protection Act in 2012 and through the overhaul of the criminal law in 2014. These changes to domestic legal frameworks have improved protection for women, children, LGBT people and other vulnerable people.
This report examines how the 2014 reform of the criminal code in Northern Cyprus was successfully achieved, decriminalising same-sex activity. This report explores the vividly the important role civil society played in achieving not just legal and policy changes, but also social transformation. The work of domestic civil society groups, supported by international NGOs, was instrumental in raising awareness of the previously archaic and discriminatory provisions of the 1959 Criminal Code and advocating for change. Through intersectional collaboration and a multi-pronged strategy, applied significant political pressure in favour of reform.
This report provides a step-by-step analysis of how reform of sexual offences law in Belize was achieved. Since the 1990s, Belize has undertaken a concerted effort to reform its sexual offences laws. This has been achieved through a combination of changes to legislation and policy via the legislature, and public interest litigation via the courts. The case study reflects on how those two processes – legislative reform on the one hand, and public interest litigation on the other – although unconnected, nonetheless mutually reinforced each other as frameworks for reform. Ultimately, the Belize example demonstrates that parallel action can be a strong model for achieving progressive legal and social change, and eliminating discrimination.