Shapps: Civil liberties should be for all

| 01/09/2015 | 52 Comments
Cayman News Service

Grant Shapps MP, acting overseas territories minister

(CNS): The UK’s temporary overseas territories minister has said that the British government will not intervene regarding local legislation to provide for same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands but he made it clear that liberty is for everyone and not just some groups. As Cayman faces the question of addressing civil unions for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community against the backdrop of recent controversies in the parliament, Grant Shapps said that, while the UK introduced civil unions many years ago, the more recent introduction of gay marriage had still been controversial. However, a few years on it was far less so.

Shapps said at the time that the gay marriage question was debated in the UK, as chair of the Conservative party he had received correspondence from people concerned about the impact but since its introduction, the controversy has died down. The minister said he has even had letters from people who previously raised objections that now say it no longer worried them.

“This is an issue for the Cayman Islands government,” the Foreign Office minister said last week during a flying visit here after a visit to Jamaica. “The British government’s view is quite simple: we believe that freedom and liberty means that people should be able to get on with their lives, and when it comes to civil liberties, we think that it is best not to prescribe some groups with civil liberties and not others.”

Despite the UK’s position on the need for rights and freedoms to be extended to all, he said the UK was not overly concerned about the situation in Cayman and it was not going to intervene in domestic lawmaking on this issue, as he emphasised where Britain stood on the matter.

“The British government’s view is clear: we have had civil partnerships for many years and now, more recently, gay marriage,” he added.

The UK voted to introduce gay marriage in February 2013 during the Tory-led coalition government. While the Conservative party opposed it the most, both Shapps and James Dudderidge, who holds the OT minister’s substantive post but who is currently unwell, along with another 124 Tory colleagues joined the majority of Labour and Liberal members to vote in favour of gay marriage.

The question of civil unions has become a topical human rights issue in Cayman this year following legal rulings in Europe and the United States, and the Human Rights Commission has told government that it is increasingly vulnerable to costly legal battles and findings against it unless it creates a framework to accommodate same sex unions.

However, far from actively working against the discrimination suffered by people in the LGBT community, this government appeared to encourage it during the recent Legislative Assembly debate on traditional marriage brought by the PPM backbench MLA Anthony Eden.

Some of the controversial comments and sentiments expressed in his shocking presentation were echoed by backbench MLA Alva Suckoo, who seconded the motion, and by Finance Minister Marco Archer, although he did indicate that he thought it may be possible to offer some property ownership rights to same-sex couples.

In the wake of the debate Wayne Panton condemned the comments and offered his support for same-sex unions and for the rights of the LGBT community. However, most other MLAs have remained silent on the issue, including Premier Alden McLaughlin and the minister for gender affairs, Tara Rivers.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (52)

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  1. Truth be Told says:

    No reasonable person would equate the speech made by Marco with those made by the other two MLAs. He did not bully the LGBT community but clearly stated that his comments as to lifestyle and behaviour applied equally to heterosexuals as to those in the LGBT community.

    He went on to say that no one one is perfect and we are to love and treat our neigbour as we would wisht to be loved and treated. He did not ridicule or make any hate speech toward the LGBT community. In fact he even said that we are to recognise that people of the LGBT community have feelings too and we are to keep that in mind when discussing the matter. His exact words were, “And I would fight to defend the right of the LGBT community, not to be persecuted by anyone or for any reason, Madam Speaker, because they are human just like we are and they have feelings just like we do.”

    Nonetheless, he made it quite clear that he believed the Lord intended for marriage to be as provided for in our Constitution and the Marriage Law and he would not support any change to that position. Under the bill of Rights, he is also entitled have his Christian beliefs too; he does lose those rights simply because he is an MLA.

    In closing, Marco stated that we ought to review our laws to see what changes may be necessary to ensure that the LGBT community are treated equally with respect to rights other than marriage because of what he believes marriage to be. With respect to rights, his statement inferred more that just property rights. He spoke of the protection of their rights generally and listed property as just one of them. Obviously an exhaustive list would only be possible if the laws are reviewed as he suggested.

    Councillor Conoll, in the Reporter, also agreed with Marco’s position. Is he bullying too?

    CNS will usually attach source documents to their articles, including copies of the hansards. Perhaps it would be wise and prudent to have done so on this occasion for the three MLAs that spoke in order that readers could decide for themselves instead of having to rely on the CNS position.

    CNS: As anyone who has gone to the LA website and looked will know, the Hansard is not immediately available.

    • Anonymous says:

      Intrepid reporters that you I am sure you could have obtained a transcript, CNS, unless of course you preferred to use a broad brush to paint as evil all those who disagree with your ideology. Disappointing.

      CNS: If we could get hold of a copy of the Hansard so soon as as easily as you believe, it would make our lives very much easier. However, this is not possible, however much you want this not to be true in order to discredit us.

      • Anonymous says:

        And here we go again – people shooting the messenger when they don’t like the anti-discrimination message.

        Why don’t you explain to us why people should be treated badly because of who they love. Bonus point if you can do it in a logically coherent manner. Special award for logic and reason and a gold star if you can do it without saying “because the bible says so”.

        • Anonymous says:

          You have got it turned around. CNS is shooting the messenger because it does not like the morality message. Please explain to me why you treat paedophiles badly because of who they love.

          • Anonymous says:

            Because, moron, that is an abusive relationship where an adult hurts a child akin to rape. As opposed to a consensual relationship between adults. If you can’t work that out for yourself you are genuinely in need of help.

            • Anonymous says:

              Paedophilia need not involving hurting the minor and sometimes it is consensual. But that does not make it right.

              CNS: Sex with a child is never considered consensual. It is statutory rape, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, and the “hurt” is emotional and just as devastating as physical violence. No one is suggesting that paedophilia is right but you are deliberately ignoring the bit about “two consenting adults”.

            • Anonymous says:

              “Moron”? You should exercise constraint, my friend. One can hardly speak on the subject of abuse employing abusive language, surely?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, as one who worked with Marco in the Civil Service for many years, I am glad he acknowledges that “no one is perfect’, He certainly wasn’t, always trying to get money from Government to get this qualification and that without actually doing anything productive. He was supported by his boss who is now head of a statutory authority. To be fair, though he did little as a civil servant, he is one of those Caymanians who is doing a good job as a politician. Someone should do a PHD on that subject – Caymanians who do very little when gainfully employed but then do well as politicians. I would list many names but CNS would censor them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Listen people as long as you stay brainwashed by religion and politics you will never understand and accept that all humans are created and born equally and should all be given the same rights and privileges. It is not brain surgery it is called humanity!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I know for a fact that his first degree was a government scholarship, just like everyone else for the last 30 years. His Masters degree was along with several other civil servants on the same programme, sponsored by the government. And every time law school fees were due he would borrow money from the Credit Union to pay his law school fees. I remember because we often spoke of his sacrifice to further his education.

      You have no clue of what you are talking about concerning his education. And, yes, he is doing an awesome job as a politician.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Some of the controversial comments and sentiments expressed in his shocking presentation were echoed by backbench MLA Alva Suckoo, who seconded the motion, and by Finance Minister Marco Archer”. I have read the transcript of the speeches and that is a false and misleading comment, CNS. Marco’s comments were very sound and in no way controversial except may be to hardcore gay activists who believe that anyone who is not ringing the bell for gay marriage is somehow “controversial” and guilty of “hate speech”. This issue is deliberately being stoked because of vested interests.

    CNS: We have no vested interests. None whatsoever. It is a question of being a decent human being as opposed to a bully. We react to racism the same way.

    • Anonymous says:

      Marco’s comments had all the grace and tolerance of a decent human being. You have simply a different opinion on the issue of gay marriage so now he is the devil.

  4. Kentucky Davis says:

    I just says NO!

  5. Anonymous says:

    where is aldens response to the hrc letter?

    • Anonymous says:

      It did not reach Alden as his head was stuck in the sand.

      • Bruce Gender says:

        With the notable exception of Minister Panton, the Cabinet, MLAs and senior Civil Servants are ALL hiding in the closet on LGBT rights.

        Politricks 101……..

    • Anonymous says:

      He will respond to it in his own time, not the presumptuous deadline set by the HRC Chairman who was well out of line.

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously, Alden is only the head of a small local authority. He is not that big a deal.

        • Anonymous says:

          As a premier you would expect some statesman like behavior, and more expression and comment on issues that matter. At the risk of being treasonous I fail currently to see any such behavior.

      • Cass says:

        “He (the Premier) will respond to it in his own time….” Do you see the problem with your own statement. You are not paid to be the Premier of a Country to do things on your own time. NO NO NO.

        • Anonymous says:

          You can try to twist words all you like but as the Premier of these Islands and a Minister with a large portfolio he has many responsibilities. No doubt he will fit a response into his schedule but it simply is not that high a priority as James Austin-Smith believes.

          • Anonymous says:

            3.43 I would love to twist his words, but he never utters any…or so late that everyone has moved on 10 light years and is wondering what the hell he is on about…

      • Anonymous says:

        And what would you regard as a reasonable time to answer what were effectively 2 questions? Will you legislate end discrimination and will you condemn statements likening gay people to child rapists? If he can’t work that out in 7 days then he’s probably never going to.

      • SSM345 says:

        In the real world, a Premier, Prime Minister or President would have responded the day after Eden’s hate speech and a day after the HRC Letter was made public. Not 2 months down the line. That’s what a real Leader does, addresses issues when they pop up. Its his job to do so as Leader of Our Country.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There is no such thing as gay marriage. Gay people can do what they want but they can never be joined in holy matrimony. This is a privilege reserved for a man and a woman. I have never been aggressive against gay people and never will be, but the truth is the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who said matrimony had to be “holy”? It is a secular legal concept too.

      • Anonymous says:

        Marriage is “holy” the first time round, not so much when you are on your 4th, have had umpteen mistresses and shag your secret boyfriend when the wife is out of town.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Holy” marriage? I had a satanist service for my wedding. The outfits were hot and the party afterwards was amazing. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was holy about it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Syrian refugees taken in by Germany – 30,000, Syrian refugees taken in by Sweden – 3,000, Syrian refugees taken in by the United Kingdom – 143. And this politician has the gall to pontificate on civil rights. Rank hypocrisy at its highest level, lecture Cayman and pretend to take the moral high ground yet ignore the plight of those that cannot exercise the right to life. Repugnant politics.

    • Anonymous says:

      And how many taken in by Cayman? Oh that’s right none. UK has thousands more coming in through the tunnel and illegal boats

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman has taken in thousands of UK refugees/British people. Are you one of them?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes and we took all your jobs because we can read and write and can be bothered.

          • annon says:

            Some respect is due to Caymanians if you choose to live here. I would think that is common courtesy.

            • Anonymous says:

              Many come with a great deal of respect, out of courtesy, and then lose it over time after repeated mistreatment.

              • Anonymous says:

                I beg to differ. Most of them these days either come with contempt for Caymanians (probably by reading CNS) or acquire it shortly afterwards from their expat friends and colleagues. I have seen it first hand. If anyone should be complaining about mistreatment is Caymanians.

            • Anonymous says:

              Calling people from the UK refugees is the respect you offer us, and it shall be matched and returned.

              • Anonymous says:

                “Don’t let them fool ya, Or even try to school ya! Oh, no! We’ve got a mind of our own…” Sorry Master, we’ve been met with your disrespect from the time we first met you. Perhaps your parents didn’t share our history with you from the Caymanian perspective. Stick around long enough and you will learn that we can match and better whatever you have.

        • Diogenes says:

          You can hardly compare having to qualify for a work permit to fill a job required for the greater benefit of the Cayman economy to accepting refugees. You have a direct comparison available – Cuban boat people. How many of them do we accept? Pot and kettle, I am afraid.

    • Diogenes says:

      Is immigration now a human right? Number of Cubans accepted by Cayman?

      • Anonymous says:

        Comparing refugees fleeing war with Cubans is sheer idiocy, why the Greek handle feigning intellect?

        • Anonymous says:

          Why is it idiocy? The Cubans flee in their thousands from what essentially is still a repressive regime. You watch, it will be Venezuelans next…possibly all heading here or to the US.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your inability to discern the fundamental difference between innocent civilians including children facing death caused by the fighting between Assad’s forces and Isis and Cubans is sad yet amusing.

  8. JTB says:

    The UK doesn’t need to pick a fight about legislation, because the same result will be achieved through the courts. If anyone doubts that a gay couple seeking the right to have their partnership legally recognised would win, they are deluded.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Civil liberties to do not abide with Christianity apparently.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Take the hint Cayman, it will be like Westbay road…all fuss and then forgotten about because the people concerned will be happier and nobody will be bothering you anymore on this question.

  11. Pope Frank says:

    Oh thank God. The news is just too boring without an LGBT controversy to gin things up………

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