Activists want LGBTI included in anti-bullying legislation

Colours Cayman is calling for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the wording of the draft of proposed anti-bullying legislation.

Colours Cayman is calling on the government to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its proposed anti-bullying legislation.

The LGBTI advocacy group has submitted its feedback on the Law Reform Commission’s proposed legislation, which is being formulated to complement a national policy on bullying.

Colours Cayman issued a statement on Friday, saying that the current proposed wording of the law refers to bullying people based about their “looks, clothes, body, sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, age, mental or physical disability, property, birth or other status”, but makes no mention of “sexual orientation and gender identity”.

“This omission is by no means resolved by the addition of ‘other status’; in fact, ‘other status’ is of dubious lawfulness … such that any person could be found guilty of bullying based on ‘other status’.”

The group added, “By excluding [sexual orientation and gender identity] from the list of prohibited conducts, which includes inter alia property, these regulations are insulting LGBTI Caymanians and are an affront to a minimum sense of decency of the Cayman Islands society at large. Neither the LGBTI Caymanians nor the society at large deserve such a disfavour.”

The group is also calling for a new section to the added to the proposed legislation, on ‘Alternative to Disciplinary Proceedings’.

“Bullying is often the consequence of community leaders or parents encouraging the verbal or physical fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm. In these circumstances, to effect disciplinary powers on a young person for, in effect, doing what their parents or community leaders encourage them to do seems unfair and, moreover, unlikely to lead to any behavioural change, which, in the end, should be the ultimate aim of the disciplinary process,” Colours Cayman stated.

Referring to former Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s farewell speech last year, the advocacy group said she highlighted that visiting UK ministers had consistently mentioned a lack of recognition of LGBT rights in the Cayman Islands and had expressed their hopes that “the government would bring forward legislation to bring the territory into line with the European Charter on Human Rights and with the Cayman Island’s own Bill of Rights which prohibits discrimination”.

Colours Cayman said drafting the new anti-bullying law would give Cayman an opportunity “to start complying with our own Constitution”.

The group added, “The need for such an inclusion is not theoretical but sufficiently evidenced by the actions of some of our own politicians who frequently call for sexual hatred and violence against Caymanians on grounds of the their [sexual orientation and gender identity.”

They cited comments made by Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden in the Legislative Assembly in 2015 in which he referred to homosexuality as “deviant behaviour” and a “social and moral evil”, and equating it with bestiality and paedophilia, including suggesting that “crushing a baby’s skull and sucking their brains out had become a human right.”

The group also referred to Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly’s public call to gate crash a same-sex marriage ceremony.

“These are just two incidents but very important examples because they show how our leaders encourage the behaviour that these regulations aim to stop. It is precisely only by admitting that bullying on grounds of [sexual orientation and gender identity] is an entrenched problem in the Cayman Islands schools and tackling it, as it is aimed to be done with the other grounds, by including SOGI among the prohibited grounds that we are going to achieve a more inclusive and eventually more tolerant society in the Cayman Islands.

“All Caymanians should feel welcome and safe at school so that they reach their full potential; this includes LGBTI Caymanians.”