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Pressure Mounting for Marriage Equality in the OTs

Local News 01 Jan, 2020 Follow News

Pressure Mounting for Marriage Equality in the OTs

Rights advocates and lobbyists, Colours Cayman, is accusing the government of violating the constitutional rights of the territory’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community.

In a statement, the organisation says “our Constitution exists to ensure fair and equal treatment under the law to all Caymanian citizens and residents of the Cayman Islands, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In spite of this, it claims “the Cayman Islands Government sees fit to violate our constitutional rights, seemingly with little concern if any at all.

“What good, then, is a country’s Constitution or a Bill Of Rights when its government can modify them on a whim or skirt around them entirely in an attempt to shirk culpability?”

The concerns of Colours Cayman are linked to the unresolved issue of same-sex marriage rights and wider issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community.

It also comes as the issue continues to get further airing in the UK.

In a statement, the group notes that international and regional organizations are mounting pressure on the UK and local governments to afford marriage equality to all British Overseas Territories (OTs), including the Cayman Islands without further delay.

Colours Cayman says it’s concerned over the UK’s idled response to address the widespread inequality the LGBTQIA+ community faces both locally and across the Latin America and Caribbean Region, particularly as it applies to marriage equality.

The non-profit organisation, according to their website, aims to foster a safe and comfortable social environment for the (LGBTQIA+) community. Yet, they claim, they’ve received little to no support or intervention from either the UK or local Governments.

Rather, it says, Members of the Legislative Assembly(MLAs) have openly criticised local activist and pro bono legal advisor to Colours Cayman, barrister Dr. Leonardo Raznovich, for his outspoken support for the LGBT community in Cayman.

Dr. Raznovich also provides support to the legal team for the controversial same-sex marriage case [Day and Bodden Bush v The Governor or the Cayman Islands et al].

The perceived inaction of both local and UK governments when it comes to equality matters, specifically the Day and Bodden Bush case is gaining the attention of LGBTQ advocacy groups and publications internationally, according to Colours Cayman.

In a recent opinion piece, “Cayman Islands – threat to the rule of law” written by Dr. Raznovich and published in the Counsel, the London-based Bar Council’s publication, Dr. Raznovich writes about threats of deportation and criticisms he received from local government,“It is my view that these threats, unchallenged by the CIG, demonstrate poor governance and disregard for the rule of law,” he stated.

Dr. Raznovich further opined, “They deliver a message more typical of dictatorships than dependent territories of the UK: that any lawyer advising on fundamental rights and freedoms secured by the ECHR or the Constitution will be expelled. It is an attempt to curtail basic human rights and deter advancement of LGBTI rights.”

Colours Cayman says they also question the lack of response from the Human Rights Commission of the Cayman Islands (HRC) and the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association(CIPLA), two organisations with a key role to protect the rights of persons whose rights under the constitution are breached.

Leanne MacMillan, Director of Global Programmes at Stonewall, a U.K. based LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying group recently published an article, “The Fight for Marriage Equality is Not Over” in which she similarly voiced concern for “the failure to act by the Cayman Legislative Assembly when it comes to equality matters, over an extended period.

In it she encourages “the UK Government to step up.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin has urged the Legislative Assembly to establish a legal framework to recognise same-sex unions that would afford those couples the same legal rights as marriage, per the court’s direction promptly in the New Year. MacMillan responds via her article, “This is a step forward but, the introduction of civil unions, it is clearly not marriage equality.”

Stonewall and other organisations have declared they will be urging ministers in the new UK Government to act and fulfil its duty to LGBT citizens in all British Overseas Territories(OTs).

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