Cayman Islanders gathered in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community on Sunday at Seven Mile Public Beach.
More than 100 residents arrived, dressed in bright colours, to reject anti-LGBTQ hate speech and stand in support of Colours Cayman.
“The greatest message I want everyone to take away from this event and any other event that Colours does is, we’re not afraid to be seen, not afraid to come out because we are stronger together,” said Colours Cayman founder and president Billie Bryan during the event.
Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric posted to Facebook and WhatsApp in recent weeks has led to safety concerns and increasingly hostile debate about same-sex partnerships in the Cayman Islands. WhatsApp messages leaked from Cayman Caribbean Cause, an anti-LGBTQ Christian-faith group, have been submitted to police for investigation and received condemnation from Governor Martyn Roper.
“I’ve seen a number of comments made on WhatsApp in recent days about the Civil Partnership Bill that I feel are deeply irresponsible. In fact, I find them quite shocking. The worst ones have been referred to the police to look into,” Roper said during Friday’s COVID-19 press briefing.
“I’m not going to single out individuals or organisations but I call on both sides of this debate to lower the temperature and please think twice before posting anything on social media that would offend others in our community,” he added.
Bryan welcomed the governor’s response, but encouraged authorities to translate their words into action.
“We applaud him for castigating those who have been spreading vitriol about our community for a long time now, but especially in the past few weeks,” Bryan said.
“We do think it’s necessary that the governor and the authorities do something to show the public, show the people of Cayman that they do take these issues seriously, and that they do see these as a serious threat to our community, because they are.”
Bryan added that Sunday’s event encountered no problems and resulted in “generous donations” to Colours Cayman.
She recognised that many LGBTQ Caymanians may not yet feel safe to attend to public events like Sunday’s demonstration.
“I know people are at risk of losing their jobs or being kicked out of their homes or worse by coming out to their friends or their family,” Bryan said.
“We understand that, but to those who are scared, we want to tell you that we welcome you and we support you. When you’re ready and when you’re able to, you can come out and be strong and be visible with us.”