As we were reminded by Dutch designer Mattijs van Bergen and trans model Valentijn de Hingh, in 2016 there are still dozens of countries where homosexuality is illegal. The model wore a dress by van Bergen at EuroPride made out of flags from the 72 countries that criminalize homosexuality. But today, there's one less country on that list.
Belize's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that an anti-sodomy law was unconstitutional, making the tiny Central American country the first former British colony to dismantle the UK's most enduring gift to the world: colonial buggery laws.
The ruling is the result of a long court battle begun in 2010 by Caleb Orozco, Executive Director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), Belize's oldest and only LGBT rights advocacy group. Orozco and his legal team argued that Belize's anti-sodomy law violated "various provisions of the Constitution that protect human dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms."
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Orozco on all counts, including extending sex to include sexual orientation in the constitution.
The decision could have positive ramifications for other countries in the Caribbean beset by buggery laws, including homophobic paradise Jamaica, where attorney Maurice Tomlinson brought suit in December.
According to BuzzFeed:
Tomlinson recently won a partial victory in a separate suit challenging laws in Belize and the country of Trinidad and Tobago that barred gay people from entering the country. The Caribbean Court of Justice, which has jurisdiction over the countries in the Caribbean Community, held that the laws were discriminatory and therefore unenforceable. But the court dismissed the suit as unnecessary because the countries weren’t actually blocking anyone from entry under the provision.
Well, with any luck, van Bergen will be busy at his sewing machine in the coming months. In an Instagram post, de Hingh said of the remarkable dress, “Every country that changes its legislation will have its flag replaced by a rainbow flag.”
Get thee to a rainbow pattern, kids!