A Sister Islands’ MLA said last week that Cayman’s now infamous gay kissing incident has raised doubts in voters’ minds about the country’s proposed bill of rights.
‘I must say that the news headlines of this past week…certainly have caused the conservative voters…to be a little bit leery,’ said Julianna O’Connor-Connolly during her budget debate in the Legislative Assembly. ‘Assurances were given that these things wouldn’t happen…now we have this test case.’
One of the major concerns expressed in the ongoing constitutional review process has been that, if Cayman placed a bill of rights in the country’s new constitution, it would be forced to accept same sex marriages or same sex unions similar to marriage.
Both local leaders and representatives from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office have stated that would not be the case. UK officials said they would in no way require Cayman to legalise gay marriage, and the ruling People’s Progressive Movement has stated it would define marriage in local law as the union of a man and a woman.
Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly urged local leaders not to be complacent on the issue and ‘turn a blind eye because of the almighty dollar.’
‘What happens when we get an Order in Council saying we have to do it?’ she said. ‘If (visitors) want to see that they can go to Los Angeles or Second Street in New York…is this the kind of tourism we want in the Cayman Islands?’
The Cayman Brac MLA was one of many last week who said they were upset over an e-mailed apology sent from the Department of Tourism director to the man who was detained by police following the 30 April kissing incident at Royal Palms.
‘Sorry for what, Madam Speaker (addressing Speaker of the House Edna Moyle)?’ Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly asked. ‘Sorry for what?’
There are differing legal opinions as to whether the actions of 23-year-old Aaron Chandler and his partner violated either the Cayman Islands Penal Code or the Towns and Communities Law.
Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly said it was Mr. Chandler and his partner who owed the Cayman Islands an apology, and that legislators should determine if local law contained a loophole that would allow for similar public displays of affection.
‘Are we just inches away from telling our pastors that they can’t preach about this lifestyle?’ Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly asked. ‘Or that they have to marry (same sex couples)?’
‘Once doubt enters in the equation that we have to pander to these people…then we are diminishing our faith in God,’ she said. ‘Each time, I get more and more concerned as I see a lack of commitment to these values.’