Premier Alden McLaughlin has described as “unfortunate” the defection of a second backbench legislator to the opposition benches.
The premier declined to comment directly on Alva Suckoo’s Dec. 30 decision to leave the government or the debate surrounding legal rights for same-sex couples that prompted it.
He did appear to address the issue briefly in his New Year’s speech, however, saying, “Discrimination in any form is wrong.”
Both Mr. Suckoo and Anthony Eden – the latter resigned from the Progressives party in November – are opposed to any moves toward recognition of same sex partnerships in the Cayman Islands.
“My concerns run much deeper than a simple debate about same-sex marriage,” Mr. Suckoo said in a statement announcing his resignation.
“The very foundations upon which we built our country are now under attack, and I firmly believe that we, the people’s representatives, must now make a stand to protect those values, cultural beliefs and Christian principles that have served these islands for so long.”
Mr. McLaughlin, who has indicated that government will make a partial move to recognize the rights of same-sex couples, said in his new year’s speech, “Despite the unfortunate departure of two of our members, your government remains strong and we will continue to work for the betterment of our people and our country.
“We have bid farewell to another Christmas in which we celebrated again the birth of Christ and His teachings of love and tolerance.
“We need to love and be tolerant of one another and appreciate that discrimination in any form is wrong.
“Our constitution speaks specifically to Cayman being a God-fearing country based on traditional Christian principles, including tolerance. Indeed Christ himself exhorts us ‘to love one another as I have loved you.’”
Mr. McLaughlin has so far resisted pressure from the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission to introduce full legislation allowing legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in compliance with new mandates from the European Court of Human Rights. The impact of the Strasbourg’s court’s decisions extend to Cayman because of its territorial relationship with the U.K.
He did acknowledge in November that government intended to change Immigration Law regulations “as a matter of urgency” with regard to same-sex partners.
The “test case” for this issue, involves former Cayman Islands law school professor Leonardo Raznovich, whose application to remain in Cayman as a dependent of his male partner was denied. Since then, both Argentinian and British government officials have written to the Cayman Islands government urging lawmakers to reverse their position in the matter.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly in November, Mr. McLaughlin said the change in immigration rules would not be expanded to a wholesale acceptance of civil unions in the law. However, he indicated that Cayman may have to bring in changes eventually.
“This is a train that is not going to stop coming. It has long left the station,” he said.
Mr. Eden resigned immediately after that statement, and Mr. Suckoo followed suit last week, saying, “I cannot, as a matter of principle, follow a course of action that seeks to further diminish the importance of our Christian heritage and further deteriorate our social development.”
He did not explicitly say what course of action he was speaking of in that statement, but it is understood to be a reference to moves toward legal recognition of same-sex partnerships. Mr. Suckoo did not respond last week to requests to clarify.
Last year he seconded a widely supported private members’ motion from Mr. Eden calling for marriage to continue to be defined in law as a union between a man and a woman.
In a presentation on his motion, which Mr. Eden said was “based on Holy Bible evidence,” he also admonished homosexual behavior in general and warned people against “satanic confusion.”
Mr. Suckoo, speaking in support of that 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.”