Regulations that will enable the practical implementation of the Civil Partnership Law will come into effect on Monday, allowing same-sex couples in Cayman to file for and register civil partnerships.
A statement released by the Government Information Services said the regulations had been gazetted on Friday after being approved by Governor Martyn Roper in consultation with Premier Alden McLaughlin.
The Civil Partnership Law was assented to by the governor in August, days after similar legislation was voted down by Cayman’s lawmakers.
Roper has said that he, as the UK’s representative in Cayman, had no option but to step in to ensure Cayman complied with the rule of law and international obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said Cayman is required to provide a legal framework for same-sex couples that is functionally equivalent to marriage.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who announced the implementation of the regulations in the GIS statement, said, “The Civil Service has completed the preparatory work necessary to implement the Civil Partnership Law. Consequently, forms and guidance for members of the public to seek such partnerships and for persons seeking to become officers who can formalise such partnerships can be found on CIG’s General Registry website at www.ciregistry.gov.ky.”
The Civil Partnership Law will provide same-sex couples with a legal framework equivalent to marriage, which is currently restricted to heterosexual couples under Cayman’s Marriage Law.
The new regulations outline how couples can apply for a civil partnership licence.
They also deal with the appointment of civil registrars and their deputies, as well as civil-partnership officers, who are authorised to formalise civil partnerships in the Cayman Islands.
The regulations also set out a schedule of fees, which range from $5 to $450.
“While the Governor appoints the civil registrars and deputies, the Deputy Governor will approve the appointment of civil registration officers as well as applications by Masters of Cayman Islands registered ships following their successful applications to be licensed civil partnership officers. In the latter instance, a licence can be granted to the ship’s second-in-command to be a provisional civil partnership officer,” the GIS statement noted.
Human Rights Commission calls for calm
The Civil Partnership Law has been met with resistance from those who do not agree with the legalisation of same-sex unions, and has led to some often-heated exchanges between those who support it and those who oppose it.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Cayman’s Human Rights Commission called on the islands’ residents to respect the rights of each citizen, while warning that right to freedom of expression does not allow people to threaten or abuse others.
The HRC statement reads in part, “although freedom of expression is guaranteed under section 11 of the Constitution, this right, like many others, is a qualified right. This means that the right can be lawfully restricted or taken away by the government in certain broadly defined circumstances.”
The HRC’s warning comes weeks after messages that appeared in a private social media group were leaked. Those messages have since been condemned by Cayman’s LGBTQ community as hate speech. Although there is no hate speech legislation in Cayman, the HRC warns that there is a legal equivalent under Cayman’s Penal Code.
According to the HRC, “section 88 of the Penal Code provides that actions or articulation which are threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviours that are likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress can be considered a criminal offence”.