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Cayman Islands denial of legal status to gay couples to be challenged in court

Cayman Islands denial of legal status to gay couples to be challenged in court

An Argentine born British lawyer that is facing deportation from the Cayman Islands after he lost his job after presenting a talk on LGBTI rights intends to launch a legal challenge to the Caribbean nation’s refusal to recognize gay relationships.

Leonardo Raznovich had been lecturing at Truman Bodden Law School in the Caymans but the school did not renew his contract in June and without a job in the Caymans, Raznovich cannot remain in the country while it refuses to give legal status to his marriage to his husband.

Raznovich believes that was because of his participation in January in a lecture series organized by the school’s student society on Gender and Gay Equality in the Cayman Islands which drew criticism from some lawmakers in the country – though the school’s administration denies this.

Raznovich believes a European Court of Human Rights verdict which found legal recognition of same-sex relationships to be a fundamental human right in Europe provides a legal precedent that will also apply in the Caymans which will force them to allow him to stay in the country on his husband’s work visa.

‘We are very happy living here, so we are going to take this as far as it’s needed because we know the law is on our side,’ Raznovich told Cayman 27 earlier this month.

‘There’s no doubt about this. The law is on our side from whichever angle you want to see it. We’re going to take it all the way that is needed until we get a formal seal of approval to us living here as a family unit.’

Raznovich has been given two weeks to remain in the country and is preparing to begin the legal process of challenging the law.

‘In principle, the steps are, you have an appeal,’ Raznovich said.

‘You have to go through the appeal before the immigration appeal tribunal, and then if that is also negative, then you have the option of continuing your appeal before the grand court on judicial review, the appeal court, and eventually the privy council.’

Raznovich and others believe that the European Court of Human Rights’ July decision that Italy must provide legal recognition to same-sex relationships sets a legal precedent that can apply as far away as Britain’s remaining possessions in the Caribbean.

The court has jurisdiction over the 47 countries that have signed the European Convention on Human Rights – meaning its Italian ruling potentially sets a precedent for every European country except Belarus to provide some form of legal recognition for gay unions.

And as Britain is a signatory, the remaining Caribbean British Overseas Territories – The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Monserrat, and The Turks and Caicos Islands – also fall under its jurisdiction.

In 2000 the same court ruled that anti-sodomy laws violate the European Convention on Human Rights which compelled Britain to pass the Caribbean Territories (Criminal Law) Order which decriminalized gay sex throughout its remaining Caribbean possessions.

Now many legal experts expect a similar process here.

Caymans Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith told Caymans 27 he could only act in accordance with the law as it was currently written.

‘The Law which covers our actions in respect to what we do is the Immigration Law (2014 Revision),’ Smith said in a statement.

‘Nothing can be added or removed other than through the normal process of bringing a law into effect or the process of amending an existing law. We will always consider matters carefully and decisions will be made in accordance with the laws that are before us and in force.’