Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin said Friday many Caymanians are afraid of adopting a Human Rights Act because they see it as a threat to their traditional values system.
Speaking at the Cabinet Press Briefing, Mr. McLaughlin said the main focus of the newly formed Human Rights Committee must be about education.
‘Human rights are fundamental and absolutely necessary, but we’ve got to get our people to understand what those rights mean,’ he said.
‘Many of our people fear the whole issue. They look at Europe and see widespread acceptance of anything and everything.
‘They see it as disrespect for godliness and our traditions,’ he said.
Mr. McLaughlin mentioned homosexuality as one of the perceived threats.
‘We have a deep-seated fear of a Human Rights Act that would allow Satanism and those kinds of things,’ he said. ‘Caymanians see it as undermining the Christian value system that is part and parcel of Caymianian society.’
Because of some of the fears, Mr. McLaughlin said a big role of the Human Rights Committee will be working on the education process.
Although the Committee will also investigate specific incidences of human rights abuses, Mr. McLaughlin said that did not need be the focus of the Committee.
There have been complaints of abuses with immigration cases and with job discrimination, he said.
‘But compared to human rights abuses elsewhere, they pale in comparison.’
Mr. McLaughlin acts as chairman of the Human Rights Committee, a position he admitted had a potential for a conflict of interest.
‘Ideally, we should have a committee independent from government,’ he said. ‘But a committee with me as a governmental minister acting as chairman is certainly better than none.’
Mr. McLaughlin said he would step down as chairman in the event others were willing and able to take his place.
He made reference to an independent human rights committee that former Cabinet minister Roy Bodden announced intentions of forming several months ago.
‘We can’t just sit around waiting,’ he said. ‘It may ever get done.’