A Cayman Islands couple have won the right to have their same-sex marriage recognised by the island’s immigration authorities.
Developer Paul Pearson and his partner Randall Pinder, who were legally married in Ireland, applied to have Pinder acknowledged as a ‘spouse of a permanent residency holder’ for immigration purposes.
The application was denied by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board on the grounds that Cayman’s Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
That was overturned by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal in a ruling published this week. The tribunal decided that the original decision was in breach of the couple’s human rights, guaranteed by the Constitution.
The ruling notes that failing to allow the application – commonly granted to opposite-sex couples – would have amounted to discrimination.
“Recognising opposite-sex foreign marriages and failing to recognise same-sex foreign marriages would be affording different and unjustifiable treatment to different persons on the grounds of sexual orientation,” the ruling states.
The tribunal ordered that Pinder be granted ‘spouse of a PR holder’ status, allowing him to remain on island with his partner without a separate work permit. It also ordered that Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman pay the couple’s $6,000 legal bill.
In a statement to the Cayman Compass, the couple said, “While it is sad and unnecessary that this fight had to happen, we are extremely grateful that right has prevailed and going forward there should never be a question about the rights of all people in the Cayman Islands to have their love recognised. Love Wins.”
The ruling indicates that Cayman’s legal framework required the recognition of same-sex foreign marriages even before the introduction of civil partnership legislation earlier this year.
It states that the Matrimonial Causes Act does not contain any express prohibition on the recognition of same-sex couples for immigration purposes. That law actually requires that marriages celebrated outside the islands are legally recognised in Cayman.
“An ordinary interpretation of this provision would include two male parties or two female parties that are married lawfully in a foreign jurisdiction,” the ruling states.
The tribunal noted that the Marriage Act – which does define marriage as between a man and a woman – relates only to ceremonies within the islands and was not relevant legislation in this case.
As long as a couple is legally married according to the laws of the country in which the ceremony was performed, they are entitled to have that union recognised in Cayman, the tribunal ruled.
This is not the first same-sex marriage case to go before the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. In 2017, the tribunal granted Leonardo Raznovich’s application to be added to his spouse’s work permit as a dependent. The Pearson-Pinder case is believed to be the first case of this kind before the tribunal involving a permanent residence application.