Legislator blasts Commission’s position on same-sex marriage
Saying recent statements showed a “total apparent disrespect for the majority of residents in Cayman,” Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden suggested Wednesday that the current chairman of the Human Rights Commission be replaced.
Mr. Eden, making a personal explanation in the Legislative Assembly, “strongly suggested” that government appoint a chairman of the commission “who is not an atheist.”
“It is my belief that we do not need an atheist chairing our Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission,” Mr. Eden said. “I am sick and tired of some people disrespecting my Caymanian people.”
Mr. Eden’s comments were made in relation to a public spat in August that pitted members of Cayman’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against the longtime Bodden Town representative and several other members of the assembly who spoke out against civil unions or gay marriages being legally sanctioned in Cayman.
Legislators in mid-August had debated a private members’ motion filed by Mr. Eden titled “The preservation of traditional marriages.” Mr. Eden’s presentation on his motion, which he said was “based on Holy Bible evidence,” was not limited to a discussion of the definition of marriage. He also admonished homosexual behavior in general and warned people against “satanic confusion.”
Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, who seconded Mr. Eden’s motion, said that while he did not wish to “launch an assault on homosexuals,” in his Bible, homosexuality is a sin, and he “shouldn’t be expected to support legislation that would allow sin.”
Human Rights Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith opined in a statement three months ago that part of the Aug. 13 debate by some assembly members amounted to “poisonous hate speech” that was an abuse of parliamentary privilege.
Mr. Austin-Smith said Wednesday that he had not heard or had time to review Mr. Eden’s most recent comments on the matter and could not provide any response. Mr. Austin-Smith has said in previous public appearances that he does not believe in God.
Mr. Eden said Wednesday that his comments from the Aug. 13 assembly debate had been taken out of context, and he spoke out against the notion that many Christian nations around the globe had accepted same-sex marriages.
“How can we call them Christians when they transgressed the word of God?” he said.
The Bodden Town MLA also took a few shots at former Truman Bodden Law School professor Leonardo Raznovich who, after his work contract was not renewed in Cayman, filed an application with the Immigration Department to become a dependent on his male partner’s work permit. The relevant immigration board indicated it could not accommodate the request. Mr. Raznovich has filed an appeal.
“Mr. Raznovich has made a living in Cayman … and because he does not agree with the lifestyle of the vast majority of Caymanians for over the last 500-plus years, he now wishes us to change our beliefs,” Mr. Eden said. “Not on my watch.”
Mr. Austin-Smith requested in August that Premier Alden McLaughlin respond to the Aug. 13 Legislative Assembly debate and invited him to denounce “in the strongest terms” any statements that targeted homosexuals, subjecting them to ridicule or even potential abuse in the community.
By press time Wednesday, the premier’s response to that request – if one had been received – had not been made public by either Mr. McLaughlin’s office or the Human Rights Commission.
Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office was contacted for a response to Mr. Eden’s suggestion that Mr. Austin-Smith should be removed from his post because he is an atheist. The Cayman Compass had received no reply by press time.