Gay people urged to stand up for rights

Gay people need to come out and fight for their rights if they want to end homophobia and discrimination in the Cayman Islands, a law lecturer at the Truman Bodden Law School told an audience there.

Leonardo Raznovich, speaking at the last in a series of lectures at the law school last week, said the students of the college had begun an important debate in the territory. But he said it was up to the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community to educate people and raise awareness of their issues.

“This is not about expats, this is about your neighbors, your friends and family – they have the right to live on this island free from homophobia,” said Dr. Raznovich, .

He said Cayman could remain a Christian country without enforcing the beliefs of the religion on all its citizens.

“This is nothing against religion,” he said. “There is room for everybody in the Cayman Islands. Cayman is not a theocracy. This is about equality and freedom.”

Earlier in the lecture series, Robert Wintemute, a prominent human rights lawyer and professor at King’s College, London, said many of Cayman’s laws, including a higher age of consent for homosexuals, are in breach of the European Convention.

Other rights, including recognition of same-sex civil partnerships, could soon be guaranteed under the convention, depending on the outcome of upcoming cases, he added. The convention is extended to Cayman as a territory of the U.K.

Dr. Raznovich urged the government to uphold the “rule of law” and update its laws in line with the convention. But he acknowledged that if Cayman’s gay community wants equal rights, they would need to fight for them.

“Come out; those who love you will support you,” he said.

“Lobby the government, write to your MLA, organize in the community, go to court, where the rule of law is being breached…

“Those aspects needs to be addressed..,” he said. “I don’t think it will happen unless the LGBT community, friends and family get together and ask government to listen.”

He said government has a responsibility to protect homosexuals who peacefully stand up for their rights.

There is currently no law in the Cayman Islands to prevent discrimination against homosexuals.

Noel Cayasso-Smith, speaking during the question and answer session, endorsed the view that the gay community needs to do more to represent itself.

Mr. Cayasso-Smith, who is openly bisexual, emphasized he was speaking from a personal perspective and not as executive director of the Cayman AIDS Foudnation.

“If we teach out kids hatred, they will grow up and pass it on to their kids,” he said. “At some point it has to stop. I think the LGBT community needs to come out more. I believe stigma and discrimination is something that is passed down through generations,”

He added, “I don’t have a problem with my sexuality. If anyone else does, it is really their problem. My question to them is, what does anyone else’s sexuality have to do with you?”