GOVERNOR RELEASES FCO INSTRUCTIONS ON DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS BILL
The Governor’s Office has responded to a request by the Official Opposition for disclosure of the instructions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) on his decision to enact the Domestic partnership Bill under his Reserve Powers.
In a statement, His Excellency The Governor, Martyn Roper, disclosed that he received permission today(Friday) from Baroness Sugg, the Minister of State for the Overseas Territories, to release the letter.
This development came one day after the Leader of the Official Opposition wrote to the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the matter.
“Since Governor Martyn Roper has not responded to my letter of 6th August 2020 requesting a copy of the FCO’s instructions to him, I am writing to you in the hope that you will provide the same as well as some rationale for such,” wrote Hon. Leader of the Opposition, Arden McClean.
It was copied to the Minister of State for the Overseas Territories Baroness Liz Sugg and the political leaders of the Overseas Territories.
In his statement today released to the media, Governor Roper said: “Ensuring compliance with international obligations falls squarely within my responsibilities under section 55(1) (b) of the Constitution.”
“Given that responsibility,” he added, “I was instructed, on 5 August, by the Minister for Sustainable Development and the Overseas Territories, Baroness Sugg, who is acting on behalf of the UK Secretary of State, to utilise Section 81 of the Cayman Islands Constitution to rectify this situation. I have today received permission to release that letter.”
Mr Roper also responded directly to the issue of devolved responsibility to the Overseas Territories on same-sex marriages raised Mr McClean.
The Leader of the Opposition had referred to the position of the then-government of former UK prime minister Theresa May in 2019 that policy on marriage law is an area of devolved responsibility for the territories to decide and legislate on.
On that point, Mr Roper stated: “This instruction by the UK, and action by me as Governor, is fully consistent with the UK response to the Foreign Affairs Committee in 2019. The UK stated that these matters are best handled by local legislatures, justice mechanisms and legal processes.
“In the Cayman Islands, the Legislature rejected the Domestic Partnerships Bill providing a legal framework for same-sex couples. In such circumstances, the Court of Appeal Declaration was clear, that the UK must step in to rectify this situation. The Cayman Islands Government and Attorney-General had already accepted that it was in breach of the Bill of Rights.”
Mr Roper repeated that he recognises how sensitive this issue in the Cayman Islands and called on everyone to treat others with dignity, courtesy and respect.
He specifically referred to “the drawing of parallels with Nazi behaviour or making homophobic remarks are completely unacceptable”, following recent public utterances in that vein.
“It is important not to lose sight of the discrimination being suffered by many Caymanians and others in our community. This is causing great mental anguish for many.”
He said it is his “fervent hope that once this legislation enters in to force the people of Cayman can put this issue behind them and move forward with mutual respect.”