Raznovich: Same-sex rights not open for political points

Leonardo Raznovich speaking at a 2016 conference on LGBT issues in the Caribbean.
Leonardo Raznovich speaking at a 2016 conference on LGBT issues in the Caribbean. - Photo: FIle

LGBTQ advocate and barrister Leonardo Raznovich wants Cayman’s MLAs to stop what he calls a “political contest” with the rights of same-sex individuals.

“Politicians who think that they need to see what their voters think about same-sex rights, LGBT rights, need to think twice about that,” said Raznovich. “What they are doing is no different from what the Nazi government did in Germany when they executed the minority in favour of the majority, and it’s no different from what the racist governments of United States did for almost 100 years after the civil war; which they segregated people on the basis of their skin, simply because the majority did not want to mix with them.”

Raznovich’s comments come on the heels of an announcement by Governor Martyn Roper last week saying he would assent to the failed Domestic Partnership Bill, that was voted down by MLAs on 29 July.

Raznovich told the Cayman Compass that he believes the MLAs who voted down the bill, because their constituents opposed it, are setting a dangerous precedent.

“Human rights in this country, as in any other country in the world, are fundamental rights which are not open to political contest,” said Raznovich.

He said while he disagrees completely with the position of Savannah MLA Anthony Eden, a staunch opponent to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, he respects Eden’s stance on the issue, which he said was based on the MLA’s beliefs rather than on public opinion.

“I respect Anthony Eden, in that, he has been [consistent] all the time I have been on the island in terms of his speech,” said Raznovich. “I totally disagree with him, and I think that in many respects he has driven the debate with hate and incited violence; but he does believe in the Bible.”

Prior to the 29 July vote on the bill, George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan, Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders and Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo each asked for guidance from their constituents on whether they should support or oppose the proposed legislation. All three MLAs voted against the bill. They cited multiple reasons for their decisions, including a lack of support for the bill within their respective districts.

“Politicians who actually make a mockery of the constitutional democracy, by suggesting that they will only vote for something, even a human rights issue, in circumstances where the court has ordered them to act, are missing the point altogether and are very dangerous,” said Raznovich.

He added, “My message goes towards young politicians, because some young politicians have actually said things which are more dangerous than what Anthony Eden has said.”

Bryan, Saunders and Suckoo have since disagreed with Raznovich.

In response to Raznovich’s statements, Bryan said, “Regardless of my personal views on the matter, I am an elected official and so I took guidance from my constituency on this very sensitive topic.”

He added, “It is not my intention to spread further division within the community, and so I do not wish to further comment on this matter.”

Saunders also disagreed with Raznovich.

“Dr. Raznovich is a walking and talking example of what it means to be a liberal – tolerant of anything except intolerance,” said Saunders. “He claims to be an advocate for human rights yet chooses to use such strong and inflammatory language equating this issue with the rape and lynching of black people and the extermination of Jews.”

Saunders added, “As a black man that attended a Jewish university, I find his reference deeply offensive and whilst he is entitled to hold this view, no matter how much he wants it to be true, it will never be true and perceived as anything other than racist and anti-Semitic.”

Suckoo said he believes Raznovich’s comments were disingenuous in light of the potential benefits Raznovich and his partner would have received had the bill been passed.

“It is also a bit disingenuous for him to liken the actions of any sitting MLA to those of the Nazi party. It is insulting to duly elected representatives for someone who speaks from a position of conflict to not first declare that interest but instead choose to castigate lawmakers for doing their jobs,” said Suckoo.

He added, “He also fails to recognise that it is not ‘democratic’ for a member of Parliament to vote for, and endorse, legislation that does not have the majority support of those whom it is being forced upon, namely our constituents.”

Suckoo said that he voted against the bill because of its “numerous flaws”.

The governor has since published the Domestic Partnership Bill for public consultation, along with amendments to 11 other bills which would be impacted by it passing into law.

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  1. Despite the predictable naysaying of Bryan, Saunders, and Suckoo, it’s Dr. Raznovich who will be found to be on the right side of history, not them. Being a true leader means making the hard decisions, doing what’s right, even if unpopular. Doing what’s right in this case means spreading fairness and equality, not hiding behind public opinion surveys of people who are as small-minded as they are. Do these spineless politicians really believe that the reason most of the developed world has accepted gay marriage is because a small minority, gays, estimated at 5%, overwhelmed the other 95%? No! The reason it happened is because a great many people outside that minority saw injustice and realized they must do the right thing. These die-hard politicians will perhaps remain unrepentant to their last breath. No matter. Gay marriage — yes, “marriage” — WILL arrive on Cayman, probably a lot sooner than many are expecting. And guess what? Cayman will survive it. And prosper because of it. Wait and see…