Gender minister denies brief for LGBT issues

| 12/10/2016 | 89 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, in the Legislative Assembly, October 2016

(CNS): Tara Rivers, the minister with responsibility for gender affairs, has denied that issues relating to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including the controversial question of same-sex marriage or civil unions, fall under her area of responsibility. In a statement to the Legislative Assembly, she said that the gender affairs part of her portfolio relates to the “economic, social and cultural attributes, roles and opportunities and the social constructs around gender” but nevertheless claimed that she was not accountable for policies that relate to LGBT people impacted by society’s interpretations of gender.

Reading the four page statement to her colleagues Wednesday, she stated that there were misunderstandings “articulated by a certain media house” (which she did not name) relating to her ministry’s mandate for policies dealing with LGBT people.

Rivers failed to speak in the recent debate on same-sex relationships and the call for a referendum on gay marriage. However, she has now rejected outright that her ministry has the remit to deal with discrimination against or policies to protect the LGBT community.

Speaking about ensuring that men and women are afforded the same opportunities in society, Rivers did not deal with modern concepts of gender fluidity, nor did she address the discrimination faced by many people in the community that do not necessarily identify with a specific gender, regardless of their physical sex or their sexual orientation. But as the minister responsible for gender affairs, it may have been expected that her ministry, above any other, would be best placed to help develop policies protecting members of the LGBT community against discrimination.

Rivers said sexual orientation is not an enumerated ground for discrimination under the gender equality law. Sexual orientation, she claimed, was used to describe “whether a person has a romantic attraction or feels sexual desire for people of the opposite sex or gender, same-sex or gender, or both sexes or more than one gender”. While Rivers cited the American Psychological Association, which has said that sexual orientation “also refers to a person’s sense of identity”, she still did not see the obvious connections.

“Sexual orientation is not a specified ground for discrimination under the Gender Equality Law, 2011 nor is it contained in the definition of discrimination against women,” the minster told her colleagues. She said that there was no “ministerial imperative or constitutional responsibility to weigh in or speak on a motion dealing with same-sex marriage”, as she repeated her position the this is not her ministry’s mandate.

Rivers pointed out that the “aim of gender equality is for society to equally value the similarities and the differences of men and women, and the roles they play”, but she did not accept that meant she had the responsibility for the LGBT community. She said that her role as minister for gender affairs was “to continue to drive policy initiatives and legislative changes… which promote gender equality; but promoting gender equality should not be confused with advocating for same-sex marriage or LGBT issues generally”.

See full statement in CNS Library

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Category: Politics

Comments (89)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    She knows the issues my gaydar tells me so

  2. Anonymous says:

    My goodness, the usual onslaught of bullying posts from those utterly intolerant of Caymanian culture and society. It really is quite comical as 99.9% of them are obviously written by persons who probably couldn’t point to Cayman on a map let alone express anything remotely connected to its history and traditions. How do I know this? Well, did you observe the small handful of protesters on the sidewalk outside the Lion’s Centre a while back? The avalanche of these vile posts and the minute turnout just don’t tally, do they?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait till the big boys in England take over here, throw these idiots out and appoint reasonable people

    • Anonymous says:

      In truth, you probably won’t be able to (wait), mate. What you heard from our little visiting U.K. friend recently was classic British diplomatic window-dressing. But keep on waiting if it makes you feel better.

  4. Marathon says:

    71 Comments at time of this post. Around 65 are extremely critical of Tara and the balance are unspecific. Not ONE person has anything to say in support of Tara or her recent statement.

    That says pretty much all you need to know about public feeling towards this honourable member.

    • Anonymous says:

      “(The) public feeling”? Are you saying that CNS restricts its postings only to those persons who are members of Cayman’s society? Because that would be the only way to support your contention. I always thought commentary was open to anyone in the world. Maybe I’m mistaken.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I work with some people like her. They generally don’t last long.

    • Rendition says:

      She is an intolerant, gutless and an unprincipled Individual, who is no better then Anthony Eden, she pampers to the insecure and religiously insane, her flawed beliefs are deeply offensive to any true Human who believes in compassion, love and understanding, of their fellow man.
      She is incapable of seeing beyond her own political ambition and is a discredit to her fellow countrymen.
      Irrespective of what I believe, she will ultimately be judged by a far higher entity than I and hopefully, will pay for her ineptitude and incompotence in the next life…shame on you Tara, you have really become the bottom of the bucket, pull your finger out,try to act like a stateswoman for once and stop avoiding the real issues, that require courage and principle, not votes and stand up for those who are too scared to speak for themselves, for fear of persecution.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ever heard of Margaret Thatcher?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Will an honest learnt person tell us who’s LGBT gender portfolio falls under. Please.?? Is she telling the truth or not.? ONLY THE FACTS PLEASE. Somebody must know ? Plenty people getting paid to KNOW ! This is just as bad as the upcoming U.S. election. All we want is the truth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    She clearly states it IS in fact, in her job description. “Social Constructs around Gender”. Gay marriage completely falls into that category… What a useless politician who literally has done nothing useful in her tenure. Just like the PPM. I mean, McKeeva’s administration was terrible but this government making me wish he was back in power…

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are two schools of thought on that announcement, some think that it was totally gutless, others believe it to be totally spineless.

  9. World Traveller says:

    I wonder if the misguided people promoting the concept of recognising same-sex unions because they are legal in other countries, realise that if that argument were valid it would entail recognising polygamy and child marriage which are also legal in other countries.

    • Anonymous says:

      No it would NOT. You are COMPLETELY wrong. This is a misguided and misinformed comment. Recognising same sex marriage or unions would NOT result in recognising polygamous marriage and child marriage. Where on earth did you hear that?! Such comments show complete ignorance of the facts and the law.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t Christians fall into child marriages?, not like the government has been covering em up all these years…oh wait and don’t forget the churches

    • Anonymous says:

      OMG you’re so vocally dumb. Stop and learn please.

    • Anonymous says:

      To: World Traveller

      The concepts of polygamy and child marriage would definitely not be justified by same-sex marriage. Polygamy and Child Marriage are two forms of ages old sexual exploitation of Women and Children, both groups who most often DO NOT CONSENT to taking part in either ceremony. Secondly, in the case of children, not only would they be coerced into doing something which they don’t want to do, but in most parts of the world they would be considered legally UNDER-AGE to marry.

      Same-Sex Marriage is about two CONSENTING persons, who are ADULTS and therefore legally of age to marry. They love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Aside from an out-dated social view which originated from man-imposed religious views, which to this day still cannot be verified in the New Testament, the only real thing stopping Same-Sex couples from marrying is an out-dated law which forbids them to do so. Period.

      Now should there be a case where there is a Same-Sex couple, and one person is underage, I certainly believe that should be treated the same way that it would be dealt with in the case of an Opposite-Sex relationship, by which it would be legally considered Statutory Rape. This is the type of thing Anthony Eden refers to as “boy love” and “pedophilia.” This is something completely different, and has nothing to do with Same-Sex Marriage. In fact, pedophilia has the same relevance to Same-Sex Marriage as it does to Opposite Sex Marriage – none.

      On a lighter note, for those who would want to argue that there are women in the world who would want to gain legal rights to polygamous marriage – meaning, one woman with multiple men – trust me, that is a very rare thing. Most women know the challenges of dealing with one male ego, let alone several!

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comment is absolutely ridiculous! And so untrue. It shows where your mind is really at concerning issues involving marriages/unions of any sort. Smh.

  10. SSM345 says:

    Her comment reminds me of a saying we have all heard in the workplace before; “That’s not in my job description so I am not doing it”, and those same people wonder why they never succeed or gain promotion.

    Tara has done F all and avoided doing any work because “it does not fall under her portfolio” and will be left scratching her head come May wondering why she no longer has her position as an MLA.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Instead of her trying to find some way to say the LGBT community isn’t her responsibility, she should be finding a way to offer support to all invidividuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, etc. It’s ridiculous how much she refuses to be involved in anything of substance.

  11. MC Sixty-Nine Cents says:

    Sorry, what’s the title of your position/portfolio again Tara: Minister of Education, Employment AND GENDER AFFAIRS, you lamentably useless, pathetic excuse for a civil servant.

    Pensions aren’t really about employment, but you stuck your stupid boot in there, didn’t you? Because that benefited you, Caymanians’ pensions deficit and Cayman’s elite creaming money off our pensions.

    PS, I am a lesbian stuck in a man’s body – one’s preferences and orientation should not promote or invalidate one’s opinion, is my point.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is the most embarrassing, disingenuous and unprofessional speech I have ever heard a politician give- and I’ve listened to Donald Trumpet and McKeeva Bush.

    • Anonymous says:

      The US has their Donald and HIllary and we have our Tara!!! A disgrace to the CI Government. This is what we have running our country. She is a coward and just doesn’t want to admit what her portfolio is. Wait till England finds out the Cayman Islands isn’t abiding by the “rules/laws”.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Adios Tara.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Teflon Tara! Strikes again.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The problem is: Unfortunately, Cayman has a Christian constitution, which means people of faith– which includes most MLAs– can shove Christian principles down everyone’s throat and make it stick. Homosexuality is a sin, as is sex outside wedlock, period. No room for discussion, and to question their metaphysical beliefs is an unacceptable attack on their faith, which is, of course, sacred. The leaders of faith involved in the drafting of the Constitution certainly had their way.

  16. Rodney Barnett says:

    Three quick questions.
    1: Can anyone tell me how providing equal rights to people such as
    at 9:16 am would take away anything from heterosexuals?
    2: Can anyone tell the the number of or estimated number of gay people in Cayman?
    3: Does anyone believe the number of GLBT people living in Cayman is greater than 500 out of 60,000 people?

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know what is worse, the fact that she might be re-elected and we’ll have to suffer through her madness for another term or she isn’t re-elected and is thrust upon us in the private sector…..sigh

    • Anonymous says:

      500 is more than voted for Ezzard.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. It wouldn’t
      2 + 3) Basically the same question. Hard to say what the true population is. Not like these statistics are kept and few would answer truthfully that they were gay.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Kinsey Method would suggest 5-7% of a sample population would have had some kind of same-sex attraction, and those numbers would exclude other gender identifiers. If 60k, then the basket is 3000-4200 people. More importantly, many tens of thousands in Cayman (including “Paper” and “Birth” Caymanians) share a more contemporary view on the subject, and support Cayman’s obligation to recognize a long list of currently withheld human and civil rights. That’s more of the issue here. That number far exceeds the 3500 that showed up to the hate rally – probably by a 10:1 factor.

  17. Anonymous says:

    A truly Caymanian response if ever there was one:
    “Dat not in my job description”

  18. Anonymous says:

    When I first read this speech I thought that Joan Rivers had come back from the dead. Then I realized it was presented by MLA Tara Rivers. But I then understood that if it weren’t so sad, it would be funny. So I am perplexed as to whether or not it is Joan reincarnated.

    I do have a question after reading it however. If issues relating to the equality of GLBT people are not in her portfolio, is the only thing inside that portfolio a list of Cayman Island Government Pay Days?

    Close minded politicians do not deserve to be our country’s leaders. Also, those who occupy an office for years and years doing nothing of substance, then peek out just before election time should be identified as to who they are. Just another government funded do nothing.

  19. Anonymous says:

    From our layman perspective, Tara’s response seems absurd. However, I would bet that within the framework of the statutes which direct the responsibilities of the Ministry of Gender Affairs there is perhaps nothing which specifically identifies that Ministry as being responsible for matters affecting the LGBT community. I’ve worked in the public service, with the Laws and Regulations which govern it, and, trust me, they could all have been written better by primary school children!

    I would not be surprised if Tara is “technically correct”. Sad that she, of all people (so highly academically qualified), would try to use that angle, though.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I really hope she reads the comments being made and gets her head out of her butt.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Please allow me to add my two cents. Firstly, I am a Gay Caymanian. I have never nor do I intend to break any laws of the country. I am not a pervert of any sort, and I am a decent, loving, caring, honest, empathic, tolerant, compassionate and highly educated human being. As for the argument as to the fuss about the rights of the LGBT here in the Cayman Islands, it is just that ‘Rights’ that would be afford to us and our partners to solidify our relationships, if we so choose to do so, if the law, would allow which it does not as it stands. Secondly, the anonymous writer 13/10/2016 @2:55 am have the right to say that gays in Cayman are not discriminated against at least physically or verbally. I am one to say that out loud to anyone but let it be known there are those who would sing a different song – unfortunately. Thirdly, I AM BEING DISCRINIMATED AGAINST because I am not allowed to have my partner of 12 years remain here with me because our relationship is not recognized by the law of the land. Fourthly, I do not want to live in his country and he is more than willingly to reside here with me. So, why should I not have the same rights as a heterosexual couple who meet, form a relationship, get married and if one of the persons is not a Caymanian, can still legally reside here with his or her partner. SO THEN, WHY ON EARTH SHOULD I NOT FIGHT FOR MY RIGHTS AS A GAY CAYMANIAN?????

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmm this is an interesting one. I mean even if you got married somewhere where it is legal, I’m not sure if that would help you. Which means that the recent non-Caymanians who took this court have more rights than you. But maybe worth a try? If not, take it to court like they did, I believe this would be part of the human rights we are signed up to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep fighting until someone in government listen (doubt it) or until the UK steps in and forces this country to grow up and do the right thing for all of their citizens. This so called God fearing country treats child rapist better than gay people because those rapist can still choose to marry who they want..

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a lawyer by trade. You could go to Florida get married and come back to the Cayman Islands and attempt to settle here with your spouse using the precedent of the two expats. In theory, the government may have grounds to reject your application as a matter of common law, but I would have thought that the prohibition of discrimination of the Cayman Islands constitution will prevail and force the government to recognise the validity of your overseas marriage. It would be politically a suicide for the CIG to discriminate against its own people. In my view, once they have recognised the validity of expats marriages they would have to do so with overseas marriages of Caymanians. This is even more so after the ECHR’s decision in Taddeucci & McCall v. Italy where the Court decided precisely this point, i.e. it held that immigration rights cannot longer be restricted to heterosexual married couples. In other words, you do not even need to get married. Apply to the Immigration Authority for your partner to be allowed to stay on the Cayman Islands on grounds of you being with him in a relationship akin to marriage given the legal impossibility of registering your relationship locally and if they deny your application, the Grand Court on judicial review will have to grant it because of Taddeucci.

      The alternative is for you to try to marry here. Ask the civil register for a licence as any other couple, when they deny it, go to court and ask the court to read the Marriage Law in a way that is compatible with the Bill of Rights. The court has such an obligation under the Cayman Islands Constitution (unless there is a prohibition to marry same sex couples). Please note that neither the constitution nor the marriage law prohibits same sex marriage to take place. Further, there is an international obligation to bring about a legal framework for same sex couples. The court may also as an intermediate solution provide the government with a peremptory length of time to pass such a legislation, failing to comply could lead to the court reading the marriage law as permitting same sex marriage. There is a precedent in common law – the Constitutional Court of South Africa did this.

      Good luck!

  22. SSM345 says:

    These Islands will never move forward with people like this at the helm and that is just plain fact, they themselves and no one else prove his time and time again. How does LGBT not fall under the Ministry of Gender Affairs? She is like an addict in denial.

  23. P says:

    The only thing she did in 4 years was screw up people’s pensions.

  24. Born Atheist, born again Atheist. says:

    The LGBT are not genderless… they’re people who acknowledge their gender identity and the controversy surrounding human rights and the LGBT community in fact does fall under the gender affairs ministry. Did you forget how to do your job or are you that ignorant Tara?

  25. Human rights says:

    Locker room banter.

  26. Human rights says:

    They’re people who recognised their own gender, so they’re not genderless, and Tara is the minister of gender affairs. What’s the problem?

  27. Human rights says:

    It’s like firefighters claiming house fires is not part of their agenda. What is she even being payed for? How could the gender affairs minister not acknowledge human rights? Is she that dumb or is she just ignorant?

  28. Anonymous says:

    The most cowardly self-serving and spineless act of her tenure, and for Sideshow hat really is saying something.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Another spineless, worthless Cayman politician. Cayman will soon join the ranks of those backward nations who refuse and abuse Human Rights. Not a list on which one aspires to be. And our “representatives” will be known for their cowardice and prejudice, instead of stately, world class leadership.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hate to interrupt this love fest, but exactly what discriminatory practices is our LGBT brothers and sister suffering here in Cayman? I have gay friends and never have I heard one word from their lips about discrimination or personal attacks, verbal or physical.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then you are delusional. Bullying, verbal abuse (in the LA), physical attacks (a murder), suicides, employment discrimination, adoption, health insurance and health care, criminal law….etc, etc, etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        If we are not legally recognizing mature loving partnerships (even those long term relationships between members of opposite sex), then we are timelocked in another century, and that discrimination unfairly degrades the rights and freedoms of those people affected. Not to mention the onslaught of daily remarks and attitudes they endure – and physical manifestations like mass protests against gay cruises with threatening placards and bible verse…the committed homosexuals that were arrested for dancing, touching, and kissing…Swiss bankers beaten, covered with gasoline and set alight in trunk of car…or that 3500 bible fundamentalists can show up at a hate rally just a few weeks ago against civil equality…or that most of the LA is allowed to waste the time of several sessions to rehash personal statements against same sex unions, even though we are required by judicial precedent to recognize and protect same sex civil unions. What qualifies you to say everything is fine?!?

      • Anonymous says:

        CNS, can we please have the Troll (and voting) buttons back so we can call these people out for what they are?

      • duh says:

        Well may I suggest you ask them and see what they say. Most live in silence and have been trained not to speak up or express their feeling. Luckily this is changing with the younger generation and Cayman best prepare for it as they will not take no for an answer, I can tell you that for sure. One doesn’t need to be physically or verbally attacked to be discriminated against, just ask any minority of colour about that!

      • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Could not have said it any better!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Tara who?

  31. Soiled Son says:

    Read my lips, I did not have a job in London… I was only working, as a student. Well, not really “working” as in “working” but rather “working” as in “studenting” – in the “studenting” sense. Oh, where was I now? Oh yes. LGBT people aren’t really people. I mean, yes, they are people, but they’re not the type of people to fall under my pink umbrella. I mean, they’re queer, in a very beautiful way, but because they’re queer they don’t qualify under my portfolio, I don’t think. I don’t know what to think anymore. All I know there’s an election going on soon, oops, that’s in the USA where I’m not really a citizen of, even though I kind of think I might be. And there’s like lots of LGBT people there and like they don’t have any rights there either, so like why should I do anything…like I mean, I haven’t done anything in 4 years now, and why should I start all of a sudden, just because you’re queer and beautiful? Oh my golly gosh, what’s old man from Bodden Town gonna think of me now?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’m so lost – then which ministry would it fall under. All this to avoid forming an opinion or policy? Well at least her poor performance has been consistent. I sincerely hope she as a plan b.

  33. Anonymous says:

    With her rationale no one could have anything to say on the matter then?
    She is a useless, spineless excuse.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Truly hate to say it, but herein lies the exact reason why many Caymanian lawyers do not advance in the profession. One minority discriminating against another – beautiful!

    (I am a Caymanian by the way).

    Here Tara, within your speech which refers to standing up for Gender Equality, take the word “Woman” and replace it with the word “LGBT.” Then take the word “Man” and replace it with the word “Heterosexual.” Once this is done, read the document again. There in lies the Gender Inequality.

    If this still doesn’t make a difference, then you should reconsider whether you should be head of Gender Affairs, Employment or Education, because LGBT persons exist in all those areas!

  35. Anonymous says:

    What, exactly, has she achieved since being elected?

    • I want a shawl too! says:

      hmmmmmmmm…….what has she achieved? Lemme list them:

      1- some interesting hairdos;
      2- some colorful curtains or blankets to keep her shoulders warm;
      3- a minimum wage law that is useless
      4- schools lacking basic resources
      5- schools being used that are filthy
      6- and another hairstyle
      7- no participation in debates that should concern her
      8- taking credit for work started by her predecessor
      9- and the list goes on……but my point- she has done NOTHING

      May 2017 can’t come soon enough.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Shun accountability, ahh a traditional trait. Good on ya but it’ll come back to bite you in the ass. I garonteeeeee!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Tara Rivers is the biggest waste in Caymanian political history

  38. Tarrara Boomdea says:

    So Tara is sitting on the fence on this whole sexuality issue? Hmmm

  39. Anonymous says:

    LGBT has no gender so she is not responsible.

  40. Anonymous says:

    fafter our pages of waffle……you are still a spineless coward. end of story.

  41. Jotnar says:

    Completely contradictory to the UK CEDAW
    Convention she committed Cayman to, but I guess. Ms Rivers is quite flexible when it comes to balancing an international commitment that raised her profile on the worldwide stage and committed the Islands to securing a few more local votes from the church lobby.

  42. Anonymous says:

    So what Ms Rivers seems to be saying is that the LGBT implications of ECHR Articles 8 and 14 are irrelevant to both the Gender Equality Law 2011 and her gender affairs portfolio? That’s an interesting comment from a lawyer. Maybe she’s not been reading up on recent ECtHR rulings?

    I think she knows full well that this mess could quite easily be dumped in her lap and wants to avoid that in the run up to the election next year.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope she’s not worried at about thr election coming up. She should well know she doesn’t stand a chance.

  43. Anonymous says:

    you can read 12 pages, still your performance can be summed up in one word “POOR”

  44. Anonymous says:

    Someone hear a chicken squawking? Responsible for nuttin’ our Tara…and capable of nothing too. Jeez, what a wimp.

  45. Anonymous says:


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