The expected flood of reaction has begun to this week’s Legislative Assembly vote against the Domestic Partnership Bill.
The fate of the controversial and historic bill was sealed on Wednesday by the narrow yet socially and politically significant 9-8 margin.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission has also weighed in on the rejection by the LA of the Domestic Partnership Bill.
It reasoned that “the decision of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal dated 7 November 2019 with respect to the appeal brought by the Cayman Islands Government in the same-sex marriage matter was clear: Government was duty-bound to meet its obligations under the Bill of Rights of the Cayman Islands to provide equality for all persons.”
The HRC says, “In light of that decision and Government’s continued failure to meet its basic obligations under international law and our own Bill of Rights to provide a remedy to the current inequality facing same-sex couples within the Cayman Islands legislative framework, passage of the Bill into law should have been inevitable.
“Unfortunately, the Legislative Assembly failed once again to meet those obligations and direct intervention by the United Kingdom now appears likely. The Commission continues to support and advocate for equality under the law for all persons as a fundamental principle of human rights.”
The HRC “reiterates the need to treat everyone with courtesy, dignity and respect and to reject intolerance and discrimination, as the debate over the bill’s defeat continues over the coming weeks.
The gay rights organisation, Colours Cayman, has expressed “ deep concern and disappointment” in the outcome of the debate.
In a lengthy statement, it said: “This isn’t just a sad day for our LGBTQIA+ community, it’s also a terribly sad day for our wonderful Islands and our people.
“The failure of our Legislative Assembly to pass the Domestic Partnership Bill has exacerbated and compounded what our Court of Appeal had already described as a “woeful” state of affairs.”
According to Colours Cayman, “The rejection of the Bill by the MLAs that voted against it amounts to a blatant disregard for the rule of law and abdication of their responsibility. MLAs must secure adherence to the Constitution for the benefit of all persons in the Cayman Islands.”
Furthermore, it adds, “while some MLAs spoke eloquently and compellingly in favour of the Bill, the vitriol spewed by so many other MLAs these past three days has left many in our community feeling appalled, disheartened and betrayed.”
“Biases and beliefs should not preclude anyone from the enjoyment of any of their constitutionally enshrined rights, not least their right to private and family life. Basic human rights are not the result of a popularity contest, as some MLAs would like us to believe.”
“What we have seen on display this week in the Legislative Assembly, however, demonstrates that the faith we have in many who claim to lawfully represent us and keep our best interests at heart is severely misplaced,” it adds.
The organisation concludes that after the rejection of the Bill, the only legal framework for protection and recognition of relationships under Cayman Islands law is the Marriage Law.
It also points to UK parliamentary interest in the outcome of the case where the opposition Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Office Minister Stephen Doughty has written the Minister For Overseas Territories, Baroness Sugg, urging UK Government involvement.
Mr Doughty wrote: “If the Legislative Assembly continues to deny basic rights to some of its citizens—then UK Ministers must act urgently to ensure the Cayman Islands complies with the rule of law and its responsibilities as a British Overseas Territory.”
Colours Cayman has also called on the resident British Governor, Martyn Roper, to act.
“It’s now time for the Governor to fulfil his constitutional rule and to restore the rule of law in our beloved Cayman Islands,” it says, requesting that the Governor “effect his power under Section 81 to restore the rule of law urgently and modify Section 2 of the Marriage Law accordingly.”
His Excellency, Governor Roper had issued a statement immediately following the outcome of the LA vote in which he said he was “greatly concerned” that the Legislative Assembly has not passed the Bill.
He had also stated that “UK Ministers will consider carefully the implications of the Bill’s defeat.”
So far, there has been no official reaction directly from London on the outcome of the vote.