This week the Cayman Islands were the subject of dual “invasions”: one by U.S. military aircraft preparing to launch a disaster relief operation in hurricane-struck Haiti; and one by Baroness Joyce Anelay on her first visit to a British Overseas Territory under her ministerial aegis.

Only one of those launched any explosive ordinance while in the country. It wasn’t the American Black Hawk helicopters.

Baroness Anelay (who, along with the American military personnel, are of course our honored guests) spent the vast majority of her time in Cayman following the usual diplomatic protocol — observing, listening, conversing, etc.

Fairly mundane stuff, really. Until the baroness took to the microphone.

At Tuesday’s opening of the Legislative Assembly, the baroness briefly addressed lawmakers. In her seven-page speech, she admired “Cayman Kindness,” praised Cayman’s economy, defended the financial services sectors here and in London, lauded the local public service … and put Cayman officials on notice that our country’s policies on gay rights run contrary to legal standards in the U.K. and internationally.

“First, and most importantly, I want to make clear that the British government has no plans, no plans to impose same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands. However, I also want to be clear that continued discrimination puts the Cayman Islands in breach of its international obligations, so there is a legal imperative to change,” she said.


Everything else the baroness did and said in Cayman — announcing a review of search and rescue capabilities, as well as additional funds for environmental protection, security, good governance, child safeguarding and hazard management support — is all well and good.

But what will be remembered, locally, from the baroness’s visit is her prodding that our culturally conservative citizenry voluntarily initiate measures “to ensure LGB&T equality and freedom from discrimination,” or face potential legal and economic consequences. (Not from the U.K. government, perhaps, but presumably from somewhere.)

Surely when she forayed into this white-hot political issue the baroness knew exactly what she was doing, that is, to send an unequivocal message that Cayman’s stance on gay marriage is being looked upon by the powers-that-be in London, and not with approval. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, for one, seemed prepared for Baroness Anelay’s broaching of the issue.

Right after the baroness’s speech, Mr. Bush included the following in his “vote of thanks” response: “We disagree that there is discrimination on LGBT … it has never been so. My own party position says we do not discriminate against any human being. However, we will not change our law, nor allow our boards to circumvent our laws … to change our culture.”

The line Mr. Bush drew in the sand will not diverge significantly from the positions one can expect candidates of all stripes to stake during the upcoming campaign season.

Although gay rights and same-sex marriage may continue to draw outsize attention and generate excess heat from now until the next election, we doubt this cultural issue will evolve from the realm of “politics” into the domain of actual “policy.” In brief, the majority of voters, and nearly all of our politicians, are strongly in favor of retaining the status quo.

Baroness Anelay’s reference to “a legal imperative to change” is instructive and echoes observations we have made in previous editorials. On the issue of LGBT rights, change is not likely to arise from the local polls or parliament — but, if and when it happens, will probably arrive from the courthouse, or from overseas, or both.

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  1. On the issue of LGBT rights, change is not likely to arise from the local polls or parliament — but, if and when it happens, will probably arrive from the courthouse, or from overseas, or both.

    As I’ve already said, in a former comment on the subject, the majority of Caymanian people/voters are not allowed by their political and religious leaders to do anything other than toe the party line…or else.

    In this respect, this puts the Cayman Islands back in the stone-age, with the average person not having the courage to research a matter and come to their own informed opinion.

    What the minority of well-informed and intelligent Caymanians fear is that same ostraciasation and character assassination if they come out and support the fact that Cayman is in effect, in violation of international laws and standards by not having some sort of legal structure for people of alternative lifestyles to have the same rights as others in major matters, in this case the protection of their relationships and financial investments.

    They fear being called gay-lovers…or of being ‘closet’ gays themselves…and thus keep silent on this and many other matters that calls for attention.

    It took the Cayman Islands some 56 or more years to finally ratify the international human rights treaties to which it had always been obligated and constant pressure through the media from myself and others…and the inevitable…to finally ratify these treaties in 2006 and enshrine the human rights charters in the 2009 Constitution….but the actual implementation of the human rights structure in the Islands has been very limited, or indeed, none at all.

    This is not about gay rights ….its about ALL people’s rights to live their lives as they choose and have the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

    In effect, the Cayman Islands remains a political and religious dictatorship.

    If the Cayman Islands chooses not to confirm to international human rights standards on this…and other issues…then the politicians can set their agenda for independence….and put money in the kitty for the very expensive courts cases that are looming in the very near future.

  2. Maybe the Cayman Islands could begin to take the lead and not be lead. How about women’s rights? How about religious rights? How about racial rights? We Caymanians need to start driving the bus or we will be driven to a place we do not recognize!