Gay kissing not illegal

Two homosexual men who caused uproar in the Cayman Islands by kissing in public while on the dance floor at Royal Palms will not be charged with any crimes.

However, the legal department of the Attorney General’s office has ruled that Royal Cayman Islands Police officers who detained one of the men in the 30 April incident did act appropriately to prevent ‘an imminent breach of the public peace.’

‘Given the factual circumstances of the incident, the officer could have understandably formed the reasonable belief that a public indecency offence was being committed and that accordingly there was sufficient and reasonable probable cause to take the action that he took,’ the ruling read. ‘This is in addition to the sensible actions he took to avert what was obviously a potential developing breach of the peace (public order) outbreak.’

The RCIPS said numerous complaints were made to an off-duty police officer at Royal Palms the night the incident occurred. Officials did not specify exactly how many complaints were made.

In previous interviews with the Caymanian Compass, both men involved in the kissing incident admitted they kissed several times while at Royal Palms and said they were approached by a man who told them they shouldn’t have been doing that.

During subsequent discussions with police that same night, 23-year-old Aaron Chandler of Massachusetts was taken into custody and briefly kept at the George Town Police station. He was released after a supervisor at the station said it was likely that no crime had been committed.

However, Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis said a few days later that the men’s actions may have fallen afoul of section 158 of the Cayman Islands Penal Code subsections (d) and (e). The Subsections deal with indecent public acts and conduct, which is likely to cause a breach of the peace.

The police statement issued to the press Monday did not address any reasons why Mr. Chandler was detained, but his partner Kevin Barnard was not since both had apparently been engaged in the same activity.

In fact, Mr. Barnard told the Compass that he had initiated the kissing on the dance floor.

Questions about whether homosexual kissing in public amounts to an offence in the Cayman Islands were left open-ended by police.

‘Although there is nothing stated in law that two men cannot show affection in a public place, officers need to respond to complaints and concerns from the public,’ RCIPS Public Relations Officer Deborah Denis said.

Ms Denis said one factor would be whether the officers determined their intervention was needed to keep the peace.

For instance, two men kissing along the George Town seawall late at night with no one around to complain might not be considered public indecency. However, in an incident where several complaints were received, such as what happened at Royal Palms, officers might need to respond.

Police also pointed out that the same public indecency laws could apply to heterosexual couples, depending on the situation.

‘It comes down to what is deemed acceptable in society,’ she said.

Mr. Barnard and Mr. Chandler filed a complaint with the police following the incident. Police said they have been advised that case has now been closed.

The Compass contacted both men about the legal department ruling but had not received a response by press time.

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