Politicians, church ministers oppose LGBT conference

Pastor Torrance Bobb, chairman of the Cayman Ministers Association, says ministers are concerned about the upcoming ‘Queering Paradigms’ symposium. - Photo: Kelsey Jukam

The debate over the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Cayman Islands is heating up again.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s “Queering Paradigms” symposium, where speakers from around the world will gather to discuss social injustices faced by LGBT people, politicians and ministers are arguing against what they see as an affront to traditional religious values.

Members of the opposition, including leader McKeeva Bush, criticized the upcoming conference and the efforts of those trying to change Cayman’s immigration law to recognize same-sex unions, during the budget debate in the Legislative Assembly last week.

Pastor Torrance Bobb, chairman of the Cayman Ministers Association, says ministers are concerned about the upcoming ‘Queering Paradigms’ symposium. - Photo: Kelsey Jukam
Pastor Torrance Bobb, chairman of the Cayman Ministers Association, says ministers are concerned about the upcoming ‘Queering Paradigms’ symposium. – Photo: Kelsey Jukam

Mr. Bush said that while his party “supports human rights” and that he does not care what people do in their private lives, “we are not willing to change our culture and fly in the face of our laws.”

“I [am not] going to change any law to satisfy their agenda, when it’s not what I think the majority of people … want and I don’t have a mandate for,” Mr. Bush said.

He suggested that Cayman have a referendum on the issue of same-sex unions, as Bermuda plans to do, if the jurisdiction is “being pushed” to accept them.

Mr. Bush also criticized what he viewed as Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s support of the conference.

“I ponder why is the governor taking her precious time to give credence and stir up more controversy, opening now the LGBT conference,” he said.

Governor Kilpatrick is not opening or speaking at the conference, which will be held June 11 and 12, according to Leonardo Raznovich, one of the organizers. The governor attended a dinner fundraiser for the symposium in April, and her daughter, Olivia Connolly, is one of the organizers of the symposium, but the governor has otherwise not been involved with the event.

Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden, who resigned from the People’s Progressive Movement party last year in the wake of the premier’s announcement that immigration regulations would be amended to recognize dependents in same-sex unions, also spoke out against the conference and the push to recognize same-sex unions, during his speech to the House last week.

He said he was “stunned” by the news that Cayman would be hosting the Queering Paradigms conference.

“We all can talk about human rights. There’s only one right … and he reigns on high,” Mr. Eden said.

He said that all of the opposition members recently met with the executive of the Cayman Islands Ministers Association and also with the Seventh-day Adventist pastors “to express our concerns of foreign elements seeming to want us to change our marriage law and constitution to allow same-sex marriage or unions, whatever they want to call it,” and that the pastors have “indicated their strong objection and that they will actively resist any change to our culture and our lifestyle that we have lived for over the last 500 years.”

Torrance Bobb, chairman of the Cayman Ministers Association, told the Cayman Compass that the group is not planning any protests against the symposium, but that the association would continue to speak out against anything that “does not support traditional marriage” or “traditional family values.”

“We believe that marriage is a God-given, God-ordained institution and that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman,” Mr. Bobb said. “We are concerned about anything that is not in harmony with what the Scripture says.

“God has given us free will, moral agency. Who am I to say that people cannot hold their particular views? We cannot be so intolerant that we can’t allow people to express their views, but with the same token, the views of a minority should not be imposed on the majority,” he added.

In a letter sent to the Compass on behalf of the ministers association, Mr. Bobb said that while the association recognizes the rights to freedom of religion, speech and assembly, the ministers view the symposium as a “direct attack on the moral, spiritual and social fabric of our islands” and that there is a “war being waged against our biblical, Christian values relating to marriage and family life.”

The letter also notes that the pastors are “especially saddened that a United Kingdom cleric appears to be selected to undermine the biblical values that faithful local pastors have been striving to commend to our people.”

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Right Reverend Alan Wilson, will speak during a keynote panel at the symposium on “Same-sex marriage and the queering project of Jesus.”

During the talk, the bishop will share the U.K. experience with the introduction of same-sex marriage and describe the impact of changes in the U.K. marriage practice on church and state.

Mr. Raznovich said the conference is not against religion, which is why there is an entire panel dedicated to the topic of religion, and why the bishop was invited to speak.

“We respect all religious beliefs, even those that think things that may perhaps harm other people,” Mr. Raznovich said.

He said he hopes that people including local ministers and politicians will come to the conference.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. I read with deep interest and concern about this Queering Paradigms conference. My humble opinion is that the Cayman Islands should not be forced to change their traditional culture and values just to be “politically correct” with those of the LGBT community. I fully endorse what Mr Bush said,”we are not willing to change our culture and fly in the face of our laws.” Let the “speakers from around the world” take the symposium to some other country. May God bless the Cayman Islands and prevent sinful life changes from being forced on the people of these islands.

  2. Yes…

    Wel, for those who intend to attend the symposium, I just went to the Chamber of Commerce to ask if preregistration or anything else was required, but no. Just show up, and bring your notepads and your desires to learn.

  3. It is interesting that given the amount of space this article was provided, neither Pastor Bobb nor MLA Eden were able to detail just how granting equal rights to Gay and Lesbian people on the island will take anything away from heterosexual Caymanians. I have asked this question over and over, and few will answer it truthfully. The answer is that fairness to gay people takes away NOTHING from heterosexual people.

    MLA Eden states he would like a referendum. That’s a nice concept. However, can he tell me how a small minority of people struggling for fairness and equality would ever be able to compete with the resources that the Church and Government have in their hands to promote their position? How could the tiny minority and their supporters ever be able to compete with endless rants in the form of political speeches in the National Assembly (written by government-paid speech writes) and endless sermons preaching “hell and damnation”. That does not include the brainwashing and bullying that gay youth are subjected to in school.

    The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and others to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian people. The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment under the laws of a nation and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes unfairness and is morally wrong.

    It is astounding to me that a person of faith would treat a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving.

    Unfortunately, bigotry is alive and well in Cayman. Bigotry and hatred of homosexual people on the island continues in a quiet undertow just as it does when one considers the ethnic origins of Caymanians. Ask a black-skinned person how they are treated compared to a brown-skinned or white-skinned person. You will quickly learn the local term that puts each skin tone in its place. Surprisingly, bigots consider dark-skinned, natural-born Caymanians to be inferior to those of lighter toned skin. Bigotry or racism is wrong in each and every case. It should be the leaders in our churches and in our government who promote equality for ALL mankind. Not the opposite, as tends to be the case now.

    Regardless of one’s particular faith, an educated and caring person would be hard-pressed to say that love, compassion and wanting what is best in our lives and for others around us are not the core principles of most religions. When a person of faith stands opposed to those principles, their attitude and actions stand opposed to the principles which they strive to uphold in the everyday interactions with those around them. There is also deceit involved in the use of the term “traditional marriage” because those who employ the term attempt to perpetuate an untruth and ulterior motives of hostility and prejudice.

    The use of the term “traditional marriage” embeds in our minds and hearts a moral and religious stamp of disapproval of gay and lesbian individuals that brings immense harm to their lives, their happiness and their well-being.

    Rather than condemnation of marriage by two persons of the same sex, our church and government leaders should understand that all persons are made in the image of God. I have lived my entire life believing in God, honoring the teaching of my church, and I know, as a gay man, that I too was born in the image of God.

  4. It is true as Christians we should not hate any of our brothers. However the Bible teaches that homosexually is a sin. The issue I have with the LGBT groups is that they want the rest of society to celebrate it. Now I don’t feel homosexually is any greater sin than any other but the difference is we don’t give it a place in society of celebration. If anyone wants to see what the real LGBT agenda is look a the United States. It’s started out with simple recognition now it’s at a point that Transgender men are protected by the law to use the women’s bathroom. I pray that the Cayman Islands stand strong on this issue.

  5. The bible is a human product. It tells us how our religious ancestors viewed life at that time in history.

    The US is out of control, and government there introduces crazy issues such as telling people what bathroom to use to take away focus from real issues such as a failing economy, loss of its position as a world leader, crime so rapent in major cities, that people don’t even think twice when dozens of people are shot or killed every weekend. Nonsense is pushed by government that poisons rivers, closes businesses and eliminates thousands of jobs to satisfy lunies in government and longest serving.

    Don’t use the US as a model.

    GLBT people don’t want to be celebrated any more than women who had to fight for equal rights, or handicapped people who had to fight for equal access to public accommodations or for that matter blacks In the US) who also had to fight for equal rights.

    There are thousands of GLBT people who have fought for the equal rights of others around the world. Now that we have helped you obtain equality around the world, are you going to desert us? Really?

  6. My thoughts are that I blame the Cayman Islands Government for allowing this conference to be held here. They could have refused.
    Further more , people maybe what they are, however I always refer to the word of God, “In the beginning God created Adam and gave him a mate”, which was a female not a Male mate. I always thought that God could have given Adam a Male partner to roam and enjoy the earth; but would there be a population, and that was the reason of a female partner.. I can understand people having friends of same sex, nothing wrong with that, but I cannot see the purpose of an intimate relationship of same sex. What is the real purpose.

  7. It seems as though Twyla is struggling with the issue of same sex marriages. In her comment which is published above, she states that she understands about people having friends of the same sex. Well, that is a good thing, and I think is popular opinion. I am sure most healthy people have same sex best friends. BFF is a popular term in society today. Most women have friends they tell things to and lean on more than their husbands. Perhaps some men do as well. In some societies people question opposite sex friendships, and many spouces have great difficulty when they discover their husband or wife has an opposite sex best friend.

    Two points. 1: What is described in the Bible is not the word of God. It is only the word of men who wrote down their beliefs at a particular time in history. Any honest person who happens to be a biblical scholar can cite many instances in the Bible where the teachings are no longer relevant (eating shellfish, stoning of bad children, a divorced woman is an adulterer).

    2: What many people fail to understand is the fact that same sex relationships are not based on sex. They are based on a basic human need for companionship, support, understanding, love, and mutual enjoyiment of similar activities as well as, frankly, financial circumatances. In younger people, and in many older folks, sex is a big part of that relationship, but is only a part of it, and just as in heterosexual relationships, over time it becomes less and less important. Fidelity, honesty, support and caring become more important.

    Same sex couples are not asking governments permission to carry on torrid affairs in public. We are simply asking for the same property rights, healthcare rights, education rights, accomodation rights and acceptance by government that others enjoy. We are not asking for the church to acknowledge same sex marriages, or to provide any same sex religious acceptance. That is up to the churches, and to the members. Gay people should not be members of a church that teaches their life is a sin. They certainly would not chose to be members of a church that teaches polygamy if that is not what they subscribe to. Find (or start) a church that teaches that love between any two people is good, caring, supportive and accepted in the eyes of God.

    After all being gay is not a life “style”, it is not a choice, rather is is the way people are born. There is nothing that mom or dad did or didn’t do, no atmosphere during growing up that causes one to be homosexual. We are born this way. We were created in the image of God. I cannot believe he would cast us in his image if HE believed it to be wrong.

    Acceptance by government of same sex couple takes nothing from anyone else. Nothing. If members of government are afraid that affording equal rights to all on Cayman is an afont to their beloved island, they how to they explain alcohol, smoking, flying, eating cooked meat. None of those things were greated by God. If God wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings. If God wanted us to eat cooked meat, he would have given us the ability to shoot fire out of our mouthes. If God wanted us to speed around the earth, he would have given us wheels and the power to propel them. And on an on an on.

    Gay men and lesbian women are creatures of God. We deserve to be treated equally, and respected for who we are.