Caleb Orozco Wins David Kato Vision and Voice Award 2017
Caleb Orozco, an LGBT activist from Belize, has been awarded the 2017 David Kato Vision and Voice Award for his campaign to overturn anti-gay laws in his home country in Central America.
In 2006 Caleb co-founded the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), the only LGBT-led campaign group in Belize. In 2016, after a six year battle, UNIBAM won its case at the Supreme Court of Belize, challenging the constitutionality of the country’s anti-sodomy law.
This historic victory offers a precedent in overturning discriminatory LGBT laws in other former British colonies, notably in the Commonwealth, where homosexuality remains illegal in 36 of 52 countries.
Caleb has become the face of the LGBT community in Belize but his surname, Orozco, is used as a term of verbal abuse by bigots when targeting those thought to be gay.
Caleb said, “The award is not about me, but about the aspirations of my community and the sacrifices and support they have shown in overcoming bigotry and taking on our opponents. I am hopeful that awareness of the award will inspire more of my community to be publicly visible and to be proud about who they are. We hope we can inspire other LGBT activists that change is possible, especially in a difficult political environment”.
John Fingleton, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Kaleidoscope Trust, commented, “Despite great personal hardship and threats to his safety, Caleb has never faltered. He has remained courageous, strong, out and proud throughout his battle for justice and equality. Hosting the David Kato Voice and Vision Award Secretariat is one of the concrete ways in which the Kaleidoscope Trust can recognise and support LGBT activists around the world, many of whom are campaigning at great personal risk”.
Caleb won from a shortlist of five activists from Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. He will receive his award at a ceremony at the Kaleidoscope Trust’s annual fundraising gala dinner on 26 January. Tickets are on sale here.
The case had the support of the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project, the International Commission of Jurists, the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association and the Human Dignity Trust.
Caleb’s fight continues, however. While the Belize Government has accepted most parts of the judgment, an alliance of religious groups has filed an appeal against the judgment.