Gay cruise decision defended

The Cayman Islands Government has a responsibility to allow the all-gay cruise participants to come to shore tomorrow from the ship Navigator of the Seas, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said at the Cabinet press briefing on Friday.

As many as 3,200 homosexual men and women passengers will be aboard the ship on a cruise organised by Atlantis Events and billed as ‘The Largest Gay Cruise in History II’.

Mr. Tibbetts said it would be impossible to deny landing to the gay cruisers if they behave like other tourists.

‘Unless their actions while they’re here in the Cayman Islands go counter to our legislation, on what basis can we say no?’

If gay cruise ship visitors broke the law while here, it would be a different story, Mr. Tibbetts said.

‘But we cannot presume those actions.’

As has happened several times in the past, a certain part of the Cayman community has spoken out against the cruise coming here, and has urged the Government not to allow it.

Mr. Tibbetts said he and the Cabinet had considered the matter carefully and he acknowledged that some people would disagree with their decision to allow the ship to come here as scheduled.

‘It’s one of those situations where we absolutely can’t please everyone,’ he said. ‘All we can do is make the best decision.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the decision came down to a matter of responsibility.

‘Unless we were to shirk that responsibility, the decision we made was the one we had to make,’ he said.

Mr. Tibbetts acknowledged the community’s feeling on the subject.

‘Homosexuality, by and large, is not accepted in this society as the norm. That is simply a fact.’

Some of the Cabinet members have similar feelings, he said.

‘If we remove ourselves from our responsibility that we have as a government and elected Cabinet, and speak to this situation as individuals, some of us would be expressing ourselves in like fashion to the public.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the world was getting smaller every day and that the Cayman Islands could not remain isolated with respect to the rest of the world on certain issues.

There would be serious repercussions for the Cayman Islands if Tuesday’s gay cruise were turned away, he said.

In 1998, another Atlantis Events all-gay cruise was not allowed to come ashore here. Mr. Tibbetts said Cayman was still feeling the repercussions of that decision.

‘We can, if we wish, have a closed-door policy for (homosexuals),’ he said. ‘But in the global village, there is really no survival for us on that front.’

Mr. Tibbetts noted he and his colleagues were elected representatives of the people and that they had a responsibility to do what the people wanted them to do.

Although making a decision contrary to the wishes of many people, Mr. Tibbetts said it was best decision for them in end.

To decide otherwise would create severe negative effects throughout the society, with broad economic implications, Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that while some people would say they were willing to accept those consequences now, they would not want the consequences when they actually occurred.

Fellow Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin said the issue of the gay cruise has been discussed in the Human Rights Committee meeting last week.

‘The Committee whole-heartedly supports the actions taken by Government,’ he said.

Through Friday morning, none of the Cabinet members had had any contact with the organisers of the sold-out cruise, which left Miami Saturday afternoon and will arrive here for a seven-hour visit Tuesday after a stop in Cozumel.

However, Mr. Tibbetts said he would make contact with the cruise organisers prior to their arrival and have ‘appropriate discussions’ with them.

Mr. Tibbetts said none of those who were upset about the decision ‘believe in my God any more than I do.’

‘The truth is, I wish they weren’t coming.’