BELIZE JOURNAL: After a prolonged but productive visit to the US, I returned to Belize just in time for the annual Oct. 3-5 Pastors & Leaders Conference. On arrival, I found in my email a Full Red Alert. Pastor Scott Stirm was calling church leaders to an emergency meeting at the same time as the conference’s first night meeting. Apparently the emergency could not wait. A new Belize rape bill was being rushed into a committee hearing on Oct. 8. This bill was of the same bent as the government’s foreign-based new gender policy.
At two Red Alert meetings we learned that the Belize rape bill was ostensibly to expand the definition of rape. But the legislature was not speaking about the bill in public. To many this raised questions about its secret and hasty progress. Following the example of Obamacare, the Belize rape bill is actually many bills in one, mandating 25 changes to current law. Some of the changes in the Belize rape bill are good. The penalty for fondling a child, unspecified before, now carries a penalty of $500 to 14 years in jail. Other changes are alarming or questionable. For instance, any adult would be able to “protect” a child by advising the child to use contraceptives and get abortions. This undermines parental authority, totally bypassing parental consent.
The main part of the bill is so graphic as to be almost pornographic. Warning: the rest of this paragraph contains explicit language. At present the term rape applies to female victims only. Male victims of rape must rely on a Section 53 law prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” The Belize rape bill defines rape as “nonconsensual” penetration of the penis into the vagina, mouth, or anus.
But it would it be hard for the rape victim to prove that the rape was nonconsensual. The bill allows a judge to decide on a “reasonable belief” that the victim did consent. The judge could say the rape victim’s “no” ain’t necessarily no. Worse, saying that nonconsensual penetration is illegal makes consensual penetration legal. So the Belize rape bill may be interpreted as legalizing consensual sodomy. The current lawsuit against the sodomy law would win before the judge rules on it!
The Oct. 8 hearing of the Belize rape bill took place in a small committee room at the National Assembly in Belmopan. Outside the room, a large crowd of Christians were gathered in fervent prayer and discussion. Church leaders representing large branches of the church—Catholic, evangelicals, and Spanish-speaking churches—addressed the committee with strong and cogent arguments. They advocated slowing the progress of the bill so its offensive parts could be removed and its questionable aspects could be analyzed.
The committee chair, Minister of Education Patrick Faber, acknowledged the great impact of the big turnout of Christians. He tried to calm our concerns by saying that the Belize rape bill would be processed slowly and surely. He claimed that the bill’s condoning of consensual sodomy had no relevance to the sodomy court case. He even said the government would appeal if the law against sodomy is struck down. We will see.
The sodomy court case is still in the hands of one man, Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Benjamin. He promised to render his decision in July. We are still waiting for his decision. Will he decide on the basis of the court sessions? There the lawyers for legalizing sodomy argued according to foreign precedent. The lawyers against legalizing sodomy argued according to Belize’s own constitution and law. It was clear to observers that the law against sodomy was successfully upheld in court. But will Justice Benjamin instead bow to the heavily financed foreign gay lobby? And will the government keep waiting for his decision? It has already initiated a gender policy that legitimizes sodomy. And the Belize rape bill looks like it will trump the court case. And since the Belize legislature is always dominated by the Belize cabinet, this bill could become law effective immediately.
Yet Prime Minister Dean Barrow is still calling for a church response—not only to this bill, but to the new gender policy. He has been in touch with Richard Smith, director of My Refuge Christian Radio. Richard is facilitating meetings on the gender policy between PM Barrow and 42 church leaders. These 42 are composed of six representatives from each of the six districts of Belize, plus the capital city of Belmopan. In addition, Scott Stirm is facilitating a comprehensive report on the gender policy that has the agreement of the Belize Council of Churches and the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches. This comprehensive report has been long in coming because the new gender policy is so long—55 pages—and so full of words that are open to dangerous interpretations.
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Tags for Belize rape bill: new gender policy, Scott Stirm, Dean Barrow, Patrick Faber, Belize rape bill, contraceptives, abortion, sodomy legalization, rape, Council of Churches, gay agenda, sex education
Belize rape bill has questionable language