Last edited: October 31, 2004

Cruise OK in Belize, UK Confab

NewsPlanet, Wednesday February 4, 1998

SUMMARY: Some Belizeans were holding their breaths before the gay snorkelers arrived, but all went well. Meanwhile, the Caymans and other territories are finding out that the UK's international treaties apply to them, too.

The gay cruise that was turned away from the Cayman Islands in fear of "inappropriate behavior" landed in the independent country of Belize with only token protest, but in a meeting today Britain will urge the Caymans and its other overseas territories to repeal their sodomy laws.

Despite many published letters and phone calls to both media and government officials in opposition, according to an informal report from an observer there was only a small and peaceful protest by sign-carrying church groups as the Atlantis Events, Inc. gay cruise on the Norwegian

Cruise Line's "Leeward" docked in Belize on February 1. The cruise was also met by welcoming government officials and security escorts. Cruise participants had a good time snorkeling and sightseeing all through Belize City without incident. The witness said there was some surprise that the gay men "looked like men" instead of appearing in drag.

The treatment of gays and lesbians in not only the Cayman Islands, but also in its fellow British Overseas Territories which criminalize private non-commercial sex acts between consenting adults of the same gender -- Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands -- is one key issue to be addressed as Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook meets with the Dependent Territories Association today in London. In his keynote speech, Cook is expected to say that while the U.K. does not want to "turn them into mirror images of Britain," he will urge the U.K.'s 13 territories (the others are Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, Gibraltar, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and dependencies, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) to abide by Britain's international treaty obligations, including ending capital punishment and reforming sodomy laws.

One unnamed source told London's "Independent" newspaper that legalizing homosexual acts would be "dynamite" and "political suicide" because of strong church opposition and prevailing public opinion against reform; the source indicated that the territories have been increasingly angered on the question but have been delaying protest until hearing what Cook has to say.

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