Cayman Islands Governor Martyn Roper expressed disappointment at the defeat of the Domestic Partnership Bill in the Legislative Assembly today, declaring it a “sad day for the rule of law”.
The UK will now have to contemplate whether to step in with an Order in Council to mandate marriage equality.
The bill, which created a legal framework equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples, was defeated by nine votes to eight on Wednesday.
The bill was goverment’s attempt to satisfy the conditions of an appeals court ruling which overturned an earlier decision of the Grand Court in Cayman to legalise same-sex marriage.
In that ruling, the appeals court panel said that Cayman was in violation of international human rights treaties by not offering equal rights to same-sex couples.
It called on the UK to step in and ensure that civil partnerships are implemented if the Cayman Islands government failed to do so
Roper said UK ministers would have to carefully consider the implications of the bill’s defeat.
The governor praised the passionate contributions of politicians on both sides of the House during the two-day debate, but added, “I am nonetheless greatly concerned that the Legislative Assembly has not passed the Bill. It is a sad day for the rule of law in the Cayman Islands, a cornerstone of our democracy.
“The Grand Court, Court of Appeal and the Cayman Islands Government itself, have all recognised that there is a clear legal obligation on the Legislative Assembly to provide a framework to end discrimination against same-sex couples.
“The Legislative Assembly has an overriding responsibility to uphold the rule of law to ensure it is compliant with the Cayman Islands Constitution, Court of Appeal Judgement and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
He praised the efforts of Premier Alden McLaughlin and Attorney General Sam Bulgin to find the right balance, through the bill, between meeting the territory’s legal responsibilities and recognising the strong views of many in the community on the issue.
“I believe the draft Bill achieved that objective by protecting the institution of marriage, which I know is of such great importance to many. UK Ministers will consider carefully the implications of the Bill’s defeat,” Roper said in his statement.