Belize is a largely conservative, developing nation that inherited a lot of outdated laws on sodomy from the British after Belize became an independent nation in 1981. In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down the colonial era anti-sodomy statutes, paving the way for the LGBTQ+ community in Belize to openly celebrate their identity.
UNIBAM (the United Belize Advocacy Movement) was formed in 2011 by local civil rights leader Caleb Orozco. UNIBAM’s first project was tackling the anti-sodomy statutes still on the books in Belize. To celebrate finally winning their campaign with a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court in 2017, UNIBAM organized the country’s first Gay Pride Week celebration at a privately owned resort. Simultaneously, UNIBAM organized other gay pride events although many of these were classified as “underground” by UNIBAM in order to avoid community backlash.
In 2018, Gay Pride Week will be held nationwide and will include parties and a public panel discussion about LGBTQ+ identity and rights although there are no plans for a parade. Caleb Orozco, the executive director of UNIBAM, and Simone Hill, the president of UNIBAM, will be amongst the guest speakers. UNIBAM will also be working with the Empower Yourself Belize Movement to host an event in Belmopan that will feature sketch comedy as a different tool to introduce topics such as gay rights into the public’s awareness.
UNIBAM is currently working with the Coalition of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Transsexuals, Travestis, and Intersex (LGBTTTI) of Latin America, which recently successfully got the Organization of American States to adopt a resolution that specifically includes respecting the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.
Belizeans are world-renowned for their friendliness and acceptance of diverse cultures, but open discussions about homosexuality have only come to the forefront in recent years. In fact, LGBTQ+ visitors to Belize have reported widespread tolerance and warm welcomes, and Belize is rapidly becoming a top destination for gay honeymoons, solo travel, and family vacations.
If you’re an LGBTQ+ traveler, and you’d like to attend Gay Pride Week activities in Belize or visit some of the many other attractions in the country, be sure to book your very own “UnBelize-able” vacation with Belize Gay Travel.