UK shadow minister weighs in on same-sex bill

Premier: This is merely the start

UK Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Stephen Doughty has written to the British government calling for it to address same-sex marriage rights in Cayman, following the defeat of the Domestic Partnership Bill.

“This situation is no longer tenable. If the Legislative Assembly continues to deny basic rights to some of its citizens – then UK Ministers must act urgently to ensure the Cayman Islands complies with the rule of law and its responsibilities as a British Overseas Territory,” Doughty said in a press release.

He said he has written to UK Overseas Minister Baroness Sugg to urge the UK government to intervene.

Doughty, Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, said the Grand Court, Court of Appeal and “crucially the Cayman Islands Government itself,” had all recognised the clear legal obligation on the Legislative Assembly to provide a legal framework to end discrimination against same-sex couples and the need to urgently comply with the Constitution of the Cayman Islands, the Court of Appeal Judgement and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It is time that all British Overseas Territories ensure legal equality for LGBT+ people,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Domestic Partnership Bill was defeated in the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly by one vote.

Nine MLAs, including three government members, voted against the proposed legislation which would have created a legal avenue for same-sex couples to formalise their relationship and enjoy the same entitlements under the law as married couples.

It did not change the definition of marriage.

Doughty, in his statement, said despite “the welcome efforts of many, it is deeply regrettable that the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly has not passed this crucial Bill”.

Governor Martyn Roper registered his disappointment with the failure of the Domestic Partnership Bill to pass.

Doughty agreed with Roper’s comments on the issue.

“The Governor is right to call it a sad day for the rule of law in the Cayman Islands – and most crucially for the LGBT+ community there, as well as those who move to live, work or holiday there – with basic human rights that would be upheld in the UK, not being recognised in Cayman,” he said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, who piloted the bill in the Legislative Assembly, also expressed his disappointment at the failure of MLAs to find consensus on the legislation.

Responding to Doughty’s statement, McLaughlin said he believes this is merely the start.

“Regrettably, the international standing and credibility of the Cayman Islands is going to be adversely affected by the fallout from yesterday’s rejection by the Legislative Assembly of the DP Bill. Indeed, the authority of the Legislative Assembly and the ability of elected members to control the destiny of these Islands will suffer a significant setback as a result,” McLaughlin told the Compass Thursday.

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