Lawmakers in the Cayman Islands have reacted to a European Court of Human Rights verdict declaring legal recognition of same-sex relationships to be a human right in Europe by passing a new motion reaffirming the Caribbean nation’s ban on gay marriage.
The European Court of Human Rights has jurisdiction over the 47 countries that have signed the European Convention on Human Rights, 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.
The court ruled in July that Italy had failed in its human rights commitments to gays and lesbians by not allowing them to form legal unions – potentially setting a legal precedent for the rest of Europe.
In 2000 the 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.
Anti-gay lawmakers in the British Caribbean now fear Britain may pass similar legislation imposing some form of civil union or civil partnership for same-sex couples on their jurisdictions – though the European Court of Human Rights is yet to declare the right of same-sex couples to marry to be a human right.
On 13 August all but four members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly voted in favor of the motion reaffirming the territory’s 2009 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The motion was brought forward by Bodden Town representative Anthony Eden who told Cayman Compass that, ‘to me, this is one of the most important motions for this House and the people of the Cayman Islands.’
In presenting his motion to the assembly Eden told his colleagues that it was ‘based on Holy Bible evidence,’ labeling homosexuality as ‘satanic confusion.’
However the Cayman Islands does not have any law preventing the legalization of civil unions and the country’s Finance Minister Marco Archer has suggested that it may be reasonable to provide some legal mechanism for gays and lesbians to register their relationships.
‘If the desire is for equality with respect to the protection of their rights, with respect to the ownership of property and the transfer of that property to their loved ones,’ Archer reportedly told the assembly.
‘I believe it is possible for us to review our laws and see in what ways that can be done without considering or interfering or changing the definition of what God always intended to be marriage between a man and a woman, and what our constitution and our marriage laws currently provide for.’