Mixed messages on gay kisser

A few days after Cayman’s tourism director apologised for authorities’ decision to detain a gay man at a local bar, the Tourism Minister was calling the public display of affection which apparently led to that apprehension ‘offensive.’

Minister Charles Clifford was asked at a public meeting Monday night about the 30 April incident in which one of two gay men was taken into police custody after kissing his partner several times on the dance floor of the Royal Palms.

‘All of us in this room and most people in Cayman would agree that what happened in that incident at Royal Palms was offensive to most people in Cayman,’ Mr. Clifford told an audience of about 25 people at the Webster United Church Hall in Bodden Town.

That statement appears to conflict with a letter of apology sent Friday by Department of Tourism Director Pilar Bush to the man who was detained.

‘What happened to you was an isolated incident and is not representative of Cayman,’ Ms Bush wrote.

Police said the man, 23-year-old Aaron Chandler of Massachusetts, was never arrested for a particular offence, only detained. A police spokesperson later confirmed that an inspector at the George Town Police Station had stated that ‘there probably weren’t any laws broken’ in the incident.

Authorities have sought clarification from the legal department as to whether the men’s actions at the Royal Palms were in violation of any local statutes.

Mr. Chandler and his partner were approached on the dance floor twice by another man on the night of 30 April who asked both of them to stop what they were doing. They were later approached by a woman who said she had a friend whom she wanted them to meet. That friend turned out to be an off-duty cop.

For a reason police were unaware of at press time, it was only Mr. Chandler and not his companion who was detained by authorities.

Some of those in attendance at Monday nights’ public meeting, which was held on Cayman’s constitutional reform process, asked why it appeared local laws weren’t being applied equally in this case.

‘I was on the Internet reading the Batabano (Parade) rules — one of the rules says that there should be no public display in that parade of any indecent type of dance or whatever,’ said Deirdre Seymour. ‘If we’re saying that a man and a woman can’t have a particular dance, which would create an effect to young children and people in the community, then there’s no reason we would want to allow acts between two homosexuals…to do the same thing.’

Minister Clifford stressed that there had been no finding of wrong-doing in Mr. Chandler’s case.

‘The issue of being offensive to most people in Cayman is one thing,’ he said. ‘The issue for the legal department to determine is whether or not an offence was committed and it seems there were serious questions about that issue.’

RCIPS officials confirmed that an internal investigation into the incident had begun and that it was seeking any independent witnesses who were at the Royal Palms on the night of 30 April.