The London office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has been Highly Commended in the Pro Bono Team of the Year category at the 2017 Solicitors Journal Awards for its work representing and advising the Human Dignity Trust (HDT) in an action which saw a law in Belize that disproportionately affects gay men ruled unconstitutional.
Debevoise worked pro bono with the HDT, which was an Interested Party in the action brought by Caleb Orozco, Executive President of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNiBAM). The case challenged the constitutionality of section 53 of the Criminal Code of Belize, which effectively criminalized homosexuality. In August 2016, the country’s Supreme Court ruled the provision unlawful to the extent that it can be applied to same-sex activity. In handing down the judgment, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled that the law must be modified. The judgment is currently subject to appeal and the Debevoise team is continuing to act on the appeal.
The work was recognised by Solicitors Journal at its annual award ceremony in London, which showcased and celebrated solicitors, law firms, barristers, and other legal professionals who are making significant contributions to the legal services sector.
The Debevoise team represented the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and the HDT in a week long hearing before the Supreme Court of Belize, led by the firm’s chair of European and Asian litigation, Lord Goldsmith QC, as the lead advocate in the case alongside associates Nicola Swan and Conway Blake.
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