The influence of U.S.-based Christian Right groups on the criminalization of homophobia has recently expanded to Belize, which has become a hotbed for anti-LGBTQ activity, according to new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center: Dangerous Liaisons: The American Religious Right & the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize.
The Belize Parliament is now in the throes of a legal battle over the constitutionality of a statute called Section 53, which “punishes same-sex ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ with 10 years in prison.” The statute was initially challenged by the United Belize Advocacy Movement, founded by the Caleb Orozco and other LGBTQ-rights activists. Orozco’s role in the controversy has put his life at risk, and he currently lives and works out of a fortified office.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing Christian legal organization based in the United States, is among the major players advocating for upholding the statute, though it has sought to maintain a low profile. The ADF has worked to criminalize homosexuality across the globe, fueling anti-gay bigotry in more than 30 other countries. But until recently, its work in Belize has gone largely unmentioned.
In an interview, Orozco describes the impact of ADF’s activity in Belize: “[The ADF] came down to do some training, and they infused [these anti-gay] ideas. They’re using [anti-LGBTQ sentiment] as a tool to coordinate or organize and mobilize membership.”