Cabinet Minister Anthony Eden disagrees with the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee’s view that the courts and not the Legislative Assembly should correct human right breaches.
The issue came up during Mr. Eden’s contribution to the budget debate in the Legislative Assembly last Thursday after he had spoken at some length about the gay kissing incident at the Royal Palms last month.
Mr. Eden said his discussion of the incident conveniently led him to the topic of the proposed bill of rights in the constitution. He prefaced his remarks by saying he had not discussed his view with his fellow Cabinet members.
‘I’m prepared to say that as long as I’m a member of government… I will not ever endorse the courts having the ability to change the legislation that we the elected representatives have the right to put in place.’
Mr. Eden referred to a Caymanian Compass article from March in which HRC Deputy Chairman Vaughan Carter suggested it would be better to have the courts decide what to do about legislation that breached human rights because the issue could become politicized otherwise.
The People’s Progressive Movement’s proposals for the bill of rights in the new constitution ultimately conflict with the HRC’s views. The PPM’s proposal states the courts should only have the power to declare that a law has offended a human right, but that it should be up to the legislature to decide whether and how to put it right.
In discussing the gay kissing incident, Mr. Eden referred to a letter in a newspaper with which he suggested most Caymanians would agree.
The letter, which he read aloud, stated that the gay kissing incident was ‘another example of the culture clash occurring between traditional Caymanian society and foreign ideals which some individuals try to impose on us’.
Continuing to read the letter, Mr. Eden said Cayman’s public decency laws were supposed to reflect the moral and cultural views of the community and because of what had happened, critics were now declaring Cayman to be some backwater nation of bigots.
‘Because we want to uphold the traditions our country has practiced for 500 years, they’re going to call us bigots,’ he shouted. ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’
Mr. Eden said when the individual involved in the gay kissing incident had been ‘told to get his act together’ he had made an obscene gesture to police.
‘Maybe he should go to Jamaica or the Far East,’ he said.
‘Why can’t people respect other people’s cultures?’