Belize's Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional a portion of the small Central American country's criminal code that outlawed gay sex.

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin announced the decision Wednesday. The criminal code provision stricken down called for a sentence of 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of homosexual intercourse.

Gay rights activist Caleb Orozco of the United Belize Advocacy Movement challenged the provision's constitutionality in 2013. He says he is elated by the ruling and for the first time feels free to be a gay man in Belize.

Evangelical Christian leaders protested outside the court.

The government indicates it does not plan to appeal. The law will remain on the books until parliament takes action in line with the court's ruling.