Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Governor of Cayman Islands approves same-sex partnership law

Published:Sunday | September 6, 2020 | 10:42 AM
Governor of the Cayman Islands, Martyn Roper

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Sep. 6, CMC – The Governor of the Cayman Islands, Martyn Roper, on Friday approved a law making same-sex partnerships legal.

“Today we will end the discrimination being suffered by Caymanians and others on our islands whilst protecting the institution of marriage. This action does not alter or undermine the strong Christian heritage and values of the people of the Cayman Islands. No-one is being asked to change their long-held beliefs,” Roper said.

The Governor, in his statement, said this is in line with instructions from UK government ministers to use his reserved powers under Section 81 of the Constitution. The changes to the law came into effect on Friday, after being gazetted .

However, the Civil Service requires a delay of 21 days before starting to accept and process applications for registration of civil partnerships.

The law, which was formerly titled the Domestic Partnership Bill, was defeated in the Legislative Assembly on July 29, when lawmakers voted down the bill, nine to eight. But the Governor, using his reserved powers to write legislation, opted to re-introduce the bill and assent to it following 21 days of public consultation.

 

Roper said he hopes that citizens can now move forward with their lives and come together as a community.

“Let us refocus our energies on pressing matters, such as responding to the global pandemic, rebuilding our economy and protecting our environment.”

The governor urged everyone to “recognise that same-sex couples have the right to legal and financial protection like everyone else. Accepting diversity and difference shows to the world that we are a caring community based on mutual respect, tolerance and equality for all.”

He also reiterated that the Cayman Islands retains its full autonomy for domestic issues, including in education and immigration matters.

“The UK fully respects Cayman’s autonomy in domestic affairs. Indeed, this will be made even clearer in the package of constitutional changes that are likely to be adopted later this year. UK intervention in this manner is extremely rare,” he added.

Addressing fears within the community that this will be the first of many instances in which the UK, through the governor’s reserved powers, will enact law changes, Roper said, “As Governor, it is not a position I would ever have wanted to be in. Abolition of the death penalty in 1991 and legalising homosexuality in 2000 were previous examples where the UK intervened to ensure its legal and international obligations, in a British Overseas Territory, were upheld. It is wrong to suggest that the UK will seek additional pretexts for intervening.”

He said Cayman is required to provide a legal framework for same-sex couples that is functionally equivalent to marriage.

“That is necessary to comply with our own courts and our Constitution. The Government of the Cayman Islands and the Attorney-General have accepted that this is a legal requirement that cannot be ignored. As the Court of Appeal stated – that Cayman had such an obligation has been apparent for several years. An important principle in our Constitution and Bill of Rights is the protection of minorities. That principle protects all of us, now and in the future. We cannot pick and choose which rights are protected,” he said.

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