Many of the Caribbean islands still have sodomy laws on the books as a result of colonial legacy. Last summer, the Belize Supreme Court made a historic ruling in favor of gay rights activist, Caleb Orozco, and struck down the country’s anti-sodomy law. This is the first case launched in the Caribbean and the first case where the sodomy laws have been overturned. The ruling stated that the law violated rights to dignity, privacy, equality, and non-discrimination.
The foundation for any substantial progress on LGBTIQ issues in a region is through organizing – LGBTIQ people getting together and advocating for their rights. In the Caribbean, organizing across the islands has been very disproportionate and many islands lack any registered organizations. Our partners in the region see legal action as a viable route to overturn “morality,” “indecency,” and sodomy laws that continue to limit the freedoms of LGBTIQ people. But they also know that unless the litigation is paired with awareness raising and community mobilizing, the risk for backlash is significant.
To this end, OutRight has launched a project supporting organizations to achieve legal registration as well as providing support in establishing and building capacity of newly founded organizations. So far, OutRight has supported registration of organizations in Antigua, Saint Vincent, Belize and also the first trans organization in Jamaica.