Although he supports legalized civil unions for same-sex couples, new Cayman Islands Governor Anwar Choudhury has said that the local Marriage Law – which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman – will not change absent the will of the Caymanian public.
Mr. Choudhury’s comments were made during his first press briefing at Grand Cayman’s government house Thursday morning.
The new governor was questioned about a wide range of issues during the 45-minute briefing, including Cayman’s greylisting by the European Union committee of finance ministers last year, maintaining safety and security in the islands and the potential to legalize the recreational use of ganja.
However, a significant balance of the questions asked by reporters focused on whether Cayman would still move to legalize same-sex unions in the face of stern opposition. The move was supported by Mr. Choudhury’s predecessor, Governor Helen Kilpatrick.
The new governor – who has only been in Cayman since Monday – said he believed a balance could be struck between achieving equality for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and maintaining Cayman’s Christian values.
“I think we are looking at having that equality under the law through civil partnerships legislation, but I am also very sensitive and genuinely motivated to really listen to the views of everybody,” Mr. Choudhury said. “I hope we will be able to do that [referring to civil partnerships] because that brings equality under the law. That is what is expected of us.”
Civil partnerships are generally used in other countries to create a legal status similar to marriage for certain government functions.
For instance, one high-profile legal challenge to Cayman’s Immigration Law that centered on the ability of a homosexual man to remain here as a dependent of his male partner brought the issue into focus during the past few years. In such a case, a civil partnership arrangement could allow that cohabitation to occur without the need for the couple’s marriage to be legally recognized.
A number of Cayman Islands lawmakers, most vocally Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo and Savannah MLA Anthony Eden, have voiced opposition to such a plan. Those opposition members met with the new governor on Tuesday, but did not release details of what was discussed.
Please see next week’s editions of the Cayman Compass for more details on the governor’s comments.