Ruling in favor of a same-sex couple, the Immigration Appeals Tribunal granted Leonardo Raznovich’s application to be added to his spouse’s work permit as a dependent. The decision ends 14 months of applications and appeals to the Immigration Department.
Mr. Raznovich and his husband, who works for Maples and Calder, waited for more than eight months for the appeal decision after the Immigration Department originally rejected the application to put same-sex partners on the same work permit.
The ruling, which could potentially be appealed to Grand Court, recognizes the men’s foreign marriage as it does for traditional marriages, but does not change the local definition of marriage. The tribunal’s decision sets a precedent for adding a same-sex spouse to a work permit as a dependent.
Mr. Raznovich announced the decision Friday in an email to the media. He said, “This is a triumph of natural justice and reflects a profound respect for the rule of law. In the written words of the Tribunal, ‘The Constitution of the Cayman Islands leaves no room for them or the Board to discriminate in circumstances where the current law of the Cayman Islands provides room to grant our application.’”
“Love and equality have prevailed,” he said.
Mr. Raznovich, a former lecturer at Truman Bodden Law School, and his husband, also an attorney, married in Argentina in 2012. The couple has been together for more than 16 years.
While gay marriage remains illegal in Cayman, Mr. Raznovich said the ruling recognizes the rights of gay couples in the immigration approval process. He said, “These are rights that opposite-sex married couples have always enjoyed and taken for granted, but until now have been inaccessible to same-sex couples in Cayman; that is, the right of certain individuals to settle here in the Cayman Islands with their loved one without fear of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The Immigration Board denied the request to add Mr. Raznovich to his husband’s work permit last year, saying there was no statutory framework to handle the application. Mr. Raznovich, citing precedent from the European Court of Human Rights, argued that homosexual couples had to be treated the same as other married couples, even if government does not recognize gay marriage.
The European Court of Human Rights rulings extend to the Cayman Islands because of the treaty signed by the United Kingdom. The recent vote for the U.K. to leave the European Union does not affect the relationship with the court, which is governed by a separate treaty.
The decision, Mr. Raznovich wrote in an email, “reflects the sophisticated nature of the Cayman Islands jurisdiction, its respect for the rule of law above anything and everything (the rule of law being the most precious commodity of the Cayman Islands as the Attorney General stated last year during his speech at the UCCI on the occasion of the Magna Carta celebrations), and, more importantly, the advancement in the most basic of human rights.”
He said, “This sets a leading example for the rest of the Overseas Territories and the Caribbean Region. In the words of the newly appointed Minister for British Overseas Territories, Baroness Anelay: ‘The strongest, safest and most prosperous societies are those that value diversity and strive to address all forms of discrimination against all people, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.’”
Mr. Raznovich said, “We look forward to moving on with our lives in the Cayman Islands.”
This story has been changed from the original.