LGBT activist presses UK on rule of law

| 19/12/2018 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

Dr Leonardo Raznovich

(CNS): Dr Leonardo Raznovich, a former professor at the Cayman Islands Law School who has emerged as a leading advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community here, has added further submissions to the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee review of the British government’s relationship with its territories. Following the recent findings in the Bermuda courts, the lawyer said he felt “compelled” to advocate further over what he sees as the UK government’s failure to uphold the law in the territories regarding equality for all.

Raznovich takes the position that the UK should uphold the rule of law in every corner of its territories but is failing to address LGBT discrimination, especially with regard to marriage equality. In his additional submissions he said he is not suggesting the UK should impose its policies on the territories but that the rule of law and the international obligations under which the UK government is bound should be complied with across its territories, in this case the European Convention on Human Rights.

“If the Westminster Parliament complies with the Convention, it defies common sense that the legislatures of these territories are allowed to breach it,” he said in his additional submission, which has been accepted by the committee.

He argued that rather than encouraging equality, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is protecting the territories’ discriminatory behaviour and “even assists them to breach the law”. He also noted the developments in Bermuda, in particular where the courts have now upheld marriage equality twice.

Raznovich is urging the committee to issue “a strong statement” about the systemic failures of the FCO in securing good governance for all the people of the territories, in particular LGBT people. He argued for the committee to secure good governance for all people in the territories via legal means open to steer territories that are currently unwilling to comply international obligations to do so.

The advocacy by Raznovich comes at a time when Christian conservatives in Cayman are upping their own campaigns, not just against gay marriage but also labeling those seeking marriage equality as “invaders” seeking to undermine Cayman’s moral standing.

In a Christmas video message on behalf of the Cayman Ministers Association, Pastor Alson Ebanks urged people to sign a petition against marriage equality and suggested that the push for LGBT equality is coming from “outside forces with ungodly ideas and ideologies have invaded our islands” and that these invaders are camouflaging their godless agendas as human rights.

However, the first legal challenge to the discrimination in the law regarding the rights of LGBT people to marry has been initiated not by any foreign forces but by a Caymanian, Chantelle Day, who wishes to marry her British fiancée, Vicki Bodden. The two women will be in court in February arguing both a judicial review and a bill of rights question. The chief justice paved the way for their case to be heard earlier this year.

Raznovich, who is originally from Argentina, is in a same-sex marriage with his British husband, who is a lawyer with a leading offshore law firm. They were the first to bring a successful discrimination case when Raznovich lost his job at the law school and the immigration department and refused to allow him to become a dependent on his husband’s permit. The couple won an appeal because they were legally married in both their respective nations, and under Cayman law that marriage had to be recognised.

However, that created a further area of discrimination because it now means that same-sex marriages of expatriates are recognised here in the Cayman Islands, but if Day married her partner in the UK it would not have been recognised here. This is the reason why she and Bodden have chosen to fight their case here in Day’s place of birth and the country they want to settle in and raise their family.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They really do believe this sky fairy crap don’t they?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Ask the crime-ridden, gang-infested, single-baby-mother streets of Chicago, Illinois and Preston, Lancashire whether or not “love” is all child needs in this world?

    Those fatherless households are filled to the brim of loving mothers, grandmothers, aunties, momma-bff’s, etc but…alas.

    Heterosexual male + female energy is paramount. It ties into the evolution of the world and society in which we live and has for tens of thousands of years.

    It just is what it is.

    Bunch of over-emotional crybabies.
    Go sue nature while you’re at it why don’t ya…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t go home an leave this island? No one wants u here, just go, don’t stay an try to change our laws, why stay when we don’t want the llkes of u here

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Have you read the Cayman islands constitution? The supreme law of this country?

    I lived in England and been to other places even if for no more than a vacation and I conducted myself according to their rules. I don’t ask them to change their rules to fit my individual fancy. Soon I hope to work in Alaska so that I can experience their lifestyle also, not impose mine.

    Frankly, all the rhetoric about “Christian bigotry” is hypocrisy from pro-gay advocates who refuse to accept that Christians don’t have to accept their homosexual lifestyle which is against the Christian belief system.

    I don’t see a lot of lgbt advocacy in Islamic countries where real human rights violations exist against even those who are suspected to be gay, by torture, being pushed from roof tops, burnt alive…horrendous acts against the human being and their right to life.

    But; lgbt rights are forced into western countries. This is a little askew, as far as “the fight for human rights” is concerned.

    The day that I feel that living in the Cayman islands according to the customs and cultures that have built this nation are no longer appealing to me, I’ll find another small island and live the quiet, normal lifestyle that has attracted so many here, if my Alaskan bid for employment has not become a reality before that.

    Why fight against the people of the land and their country’s clearly defined laws? The quietness and quaintness of this country is why many have moved here, only to try to change it from within. This is so unfair to the people who originated from here for generations and have grown up with certain behaviours. I’m sure if left alone they will gradually grow into the acceptance that is so desired and if so there will be a genuine acceptance. Forcing the UK to change laws is not creating acceptance. It is creating animosity by those it is forced on.

    As for the two ladies, why kick your own front door in? Because it’s yours? How far does suing your government take you and take the country? How will it affect your people on a broad scale? Not that you don’t count, but the overall love of country should exceed individual desires. We all have desires and many are not very good, so what avenue does this lead your people and country in the long run?

    Please, everyone, don’t make assumptions about who I am or what my belief system is constructed by. I am free to believe or not believe. I’m just not allowed to condemn others for their religious beliefs, because we all serve a god, whether it be money, drugs, sex, Christ, Buddha, trees, stars or Satan and its not right to condemn Christians and its not right to impose the lgbt view and beliefs on them.

    We don’t have the right to condemn a nation for the beliefs that has been built on for hundreds of years and try to destroy their constitution. That is selfish hypocrisy and simultaneously a new-age communism.

    We should all be grateful for the quality of life enjoyed in this country, home to over 140 nationalities and nearly a 50/50 split between bloodline and migrant. I think that is really tolerant of the Caymanian people.

    Leave those people alone and let them live in their country according to their established beliefs.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you 10:13pm !!! Well said.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Constitution is not the supreme law. The ECHR has superior normativity. And the UK can change the constitution by orders-in-council. That bigotry was brought in by local government to pander to the bigot vote does not mean the national government in London should not address it if it continues. Or Cayman can go independent and discriminate away. What does Cayman want? To maintain discrimination against homosexuals or to have its economy implode? Everyone knows the answer, “Jesus” always comes second to the dollar.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I can save people having to read this dross. It is just “Do as in Rome, and don’t question why I am a bigot.” Once could have changed the words for the laws that applied in the Southern US during segregation and most of it would have read exactly the same.

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    • Anonymous says:

      ” Why fight against the people of the land and their country’s clearly defined laws? ”

      Because besides this case, we have MANY born and raised Caymanians who are gay and want to be afforded EQUAL rights as others.

      You along with many scream this rhetoric that outside people are forcing us to change our culture, when Caymanians are forcing other Caymanians to be straight and Christian or be shunned in the society they were born into.

      All Caymanians should have the ability to love and live in peace with equal rights. Sexual preference of others is none of your business or right to meddle with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Have you? The Constitution prohibits legal discrimination and says nothing that would prohibit legal recognition of same sex marriage.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    agreed…govt does not force anyone to marry, but they make your like so hard if you dont, while having a foreign partner. e.g. i have a child by a foreign woman. i am a native…so is child, but i have to take out a permit for my partner to take care of child. meanwhile, those foreign women who divorce without any papers and have childten by a native man can stay and dont require work permits? my question is, arent they all caymanian children? remember Jesus said, suffer the little children to come onto me, for such is the kingdom of god! Then we call ourselves a christian society? christian nation? wonder what god would say….

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  5. Anonymous says:

    You know, why don’t you just take this to the European Court of Human Rights? Stop talking about it. Sue us. If you want to force our society to change, do it. Make it happen and stop banging on about it.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The UK won’t even step in to push this regime to uphold our own Constitution from a decade ago as it pertains to the creation and enactment of the Standards in Public Life §117.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is a lot more important than whether bigotted service providers can refuse to bake cakes.

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      • Anonymous says:

        But are you calling them bigots because they follow their Christian beliefs? Isn’t that by definition bigotry against Christians?

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        • Ffs says:

          You’re an idiot. Where in the Bible does it say that Christian’s aren’t allowed to bake cakes for homosexuals and or non Christians? That Baker made a personal choice and that’s fine but is he a bigot for choosing not to serve a client just because of their sexual preference? yes. Maybe you should look up the definition of bigotry before talking out of your ass.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Not if you know what the definition and etymology of bigot is.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Belief in Bronze Age fairy stories is not a basis to discriminate against people on the basis of gender status or orientation.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman Constitution applies to government, not to individuals. This U.S. case has nothing to do with Cayman.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Open your eyes people.

    Luke 21:36

    @Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Keep pressing. One day the UK will do the right thing and intervene to stop this discrimination based on out-dated base bigotry.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Pastor Alson is right.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Really….It stuns me how so many people will still listen to the nonsense, moralistic tones of the religious fraternity. The Book of Revelations should be revised, to document all the so-called church schools, pastors, vicars, priests etc, who have been found guilty of the most heinous examples of child abuse – and how the Church has consistently tried to cover up crimes and protect its own.

      A bunch of hypocrites, who use religion for their own purposes. Watching the TV preachers, and how duped individuals buy into that crap, is nothing less than a comedic experience; one guy, sells ‘holy water’ and tells his flock that if they buy it from him, their ‘debt’ will just disappear ‘by the grace of God’!

      My grandfather was aged 15 when he joined the army and was present at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Having witnessed the carnage that day, his religious beliefs evaporated as he could not understand that if there was such a ‘God’, how he could allow such slaughter. He was lovely man, whose kindness was recognized by the community, but he didn’t need a ‘God’ to be a good person and live a moral life. He was not a hypocrite who went to church on a Sunday and then on Monday, ‘ripped off’ his fellow man.

      People, you do not need religion to lead good lives. I am not a member of the LGBT community, but I do believe in equality for all (as equal human beings). To use rather pious religious arguments to deprive ‘other’ human beings of rights, seems to me, to be ‘unchristian’, if you are guided by religious faith.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Just because a few priests commit sins, doesn’t mean all of them do in general. The story of your grandfather is touching but ask yourself this: why did God let Jesus die such a horrible death? Why didn’t God stop that from happening?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Not just a few priests – it was the Church (right up to the Vatican) who covered up a few of sins.

          And as far as ‘God’ letting Jesus die such a horrible death – perhaps
          its just a fact, that there isn’t this mysterious deity!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Oooo kay …

        Lets get back on topic shall we
        Atheists writing junk again ?

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        • Anonymous says:

          What’s wrong with being Atheists? Why do Christians or non-theists wants recognition, love, and acceptance and the expense of invalidating other’s peoples and shutting us down when we say something? Hypocrisy. Get over it, this new generation craves authenticity and equality and is coming to their senses about how toxic religion is and how dogmatic our island is in it’s failure to approach people from all walks of life. I’ll be waving my Pride flag proudly when this is all over. Cayman is too sheltered for it’s own good.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Why on earth would you try to change the culture of Cayman, If you don’t like us and feel we discriminate against you, why don’t you go back to your country

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Just more hypocrisy from the Conservative government trying to pretend they actually care about LGBTQ rights because they know that they cant afford to lose any more voters when it comes to minorities, women and young people in the Uk

    It won’t matter at the end of the day

    Theresa May has done a stellar job of completely fumbling Brexit and every day more and more people are convinced they would rather remain in the EU

    May is way past shooting herself in the foot at this point she is aiming a shotgun at her ankle while standing on 100 pounds of year old dynamite
    and thankfully she is nothing if not stubborn, and she will be going down with this proverbial ship

    Long Live incoming Prime Minister Corbyn

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    • Anonymous says:

      Then the U.K. will be sunk!

      The last Labour Government with a socialist agenda, resulted in Denis Healey (Chancellor of the Exchequer), taking his begging bowl to the International Monetary Fund for a humiliating cash bailout; and Corbyn and his henchmen are far more left wing that that 70’s Government!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    When you go to Rome you should do as the Romans do..I really don’t understand this guy. If you don’t like us and feel we discriminate against you, why don’t you go back to your country and fight to change laws there..I would never go anywhere and expect them to change their laws to suit me..

    The government gave you an opportunity to stay here with your partner and you are not happy with that but want to change our rules and customs..go home if you don’t like it here..many flights leaving every day..

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    • Anonymous says:

      1. The legal requirements already exist. The European Convention on Human Rights has been extended to the Cayman Islands and it requires, as a matter of law, that the Cayman Islands provides a legal framework for same sex couples. This legal requirement is binding and the Cayman Islands must comply, otherwise it is (and remains) in breach of existing law.

      2. He is not fighting for discrimination against himself, he is fighting for the rights of Caymanians that are LGBT and have no voice, no support and are treated as second class citizens in their own country, segregated from society and without equal treatment, rights and protections under the law as heterosexuals.

      This is quite simple. The law unquestionably requires the Cayman Islands to recognise and give rights to LGBT people (ask a Cayman qualified lawyer or your Human Rights Commission). The law is not something that one can ‘cherry pick’ to comply with or not. Either accept the existing legal requirements or lobby for those requirements to be repealed / changed. The issue that is being raised here is a very serious and important one that goes way beyond the issue of human rights: Should the Cayman Islands be allowed to ignore (and breach) laws that the majority of people find unpalatable?

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    • Anonymous says:

      While we are telling people to go back where they came from

      Can we tell the Christians to go back to sacrificing animals in the desert?
      Or is it just anyone who doesn’t agree with you that has to leave?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, they should have kept slavery in the world instead of changing that. It’s just how it is and if you don’t like slavery and feel discriminated you should just move and stop fighting for human rights.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So you would have told civil rights activists to accept segregation in the South. When in Rome, after all.

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      • Anonymous says:

        no comparison

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        • Anonymous says:

          It is but it seems you read too deep into it. If marital rape were accepted in Rome..wouldn’t you fight back? Even though we may all agree on different things, your beliefs should never be placed above someone else’s..nor should you try to silence individuals who are speaking on something close to their heart by saying foolishness like “Go back to where you came from” and other immature and ignorant crap.

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    • MC Hammer says:

      He is clearly in breach of his Right to stay in the Ci. All GOLs approval always comes with conditions. One condition is you should not be involved in local politics. He ia clearly involve by telling Caymanians and advocating for a change to CI marriage Law.
      I guess no one at immigration Depaetment knows the immigration Law or its Regulations.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Good luck with trying to enforce that horrific curb on the free speech and right of political activity of a settled resident…

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  13. Anonymous says:

    For the likes of me I am unable to understand why Dr. Raznovich is making all the fuss about? Didn’t he not got and won his appeal? Why on earth would you try to change the culture of Cayman that you came and fell in love with? By changing our way of life and laws, will we not be like the other countries that are having major issues? Why would you want that here? Just curious.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because he knows how it feels to be rejected by society, ostracised, segregated, ignored, unloved and unable to love. This is how some (granted not all) LGBT people feel and have to live with everyday. It is impossible for such people to feel truly equal and protected if the law doesn’t treat them as such, no matter how wonderful and supportive their friends and families may be.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We have all been unloved and rejected by spouse, family and friends but forcing one view on another is just wrong. It’s like being in a relationship and begging someone to love you when they don’t. Respect our laws, our way of life and our culture and we will do the same. I don’t think he would dare go to any of the Muslim state and try to impose his way of life on them?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Our island is open to all walks of life and if we cannot do something as simple as showing members of the LGBT community how immensely LOVED and SEEN they are…we are not an island that ANYONE should be proud of. We are selfish, dogmatic, hypocritical, and unfair in our ways especially when it comes to the treatment and recognition of LGBT folk. If someone is educated enough to recognize and speak on issues a lot of us are ignorant on then they should be fully allowed to do that without saying they need to go back where they came from. We can all learn a thing or too in life not just about God and the bible but about everything that impacts us. What impacts one group of our people should make us all respond in love and acceptance. Not ignorant hatred or saying things that will downplay the trauma many of our LGBT folk face on a daily basis while living in a highly conservative (hypocritical) Christian culture…

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        • Anonymous says:

          A way of life is not being force upon anyone. If anything your ignorance and lack of compassion is forcing a straight lifestyle on gay Caymanians. The requirement for a legal framework providing same sex couples with substantially the same rights as opposite sex (heterosexual couples) already exists in Cayman. It has been a legal requirement in Cayman to have such a framework for around 4 years now. Muslim countries do not have that same legal requirement (they are not a dependent territory of the UK and nor are they a signatory to the European Convention in Human Rights). The Cayman Islands is a territory of the UK and the Cayman Islands has had the European Convention on Human Rights extended to it). Those legal obligations are being breached by the Cayman Islands government. If a framework is introduced it will rectify that breach of such existing law. This is why the Cayman Islands government is under pressure to act. If a framework is introduced it will have absolutely no impact on anyone except for those that are in same sex relationships. It will not require straight people to become gay, nor will it diminish or otherwise change any of the rights that straight people enjoy. And if you wish to continue to hold your views after a legal framework has been put in place you can. You won’t be required to love or even like gay people if you don’t want too, just as the law doesn’t require anyone to love or even like straight people currently!

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          • Anonymous says:

            Explain how we are forcing a straight lifestyle on gay Caymanians, please?..I know many gay Caymanians who live their life as they see fit and I don’t see any other Caymanians not accepting them..

            You are making this about legalities, we can all exist within the same legal framework that we have had for ages..This isn’t about Christians or gays, it’s about acceptance of each other…You just want to push it further than it needs to be…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Raznovich,

    We appreciate how much you’ve helped and that you continue to help. Sometimes, though, you being the leader (or at least the public face) of this movement does more harm than good. It’s too easy to blame you and to dismiss these issues as something that you’re trying to impose from abroad if you’re leading the change.

    I’m sure it’s not intentional, but you’re overshadowing Vicky and Chantelle’s story here, which is the one that really matters. This is a Caymanian issue about the discrimination felt by gay and lesbian Caymanians.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Chantelle and Vicki’s case is not mentioned. The issue being raised is in the context of the UK public enquiry and he is highlighting the failure of the UK to secure good governance of its Territories by ensuring that those Territories all comply with international law by which they are bound. Dr. Raznovich is pointing the finger quite clearly at the UK government and the FCO. He has worked tirelessly to help support the local LGBT community here and around the world and this comment is unfair and out of place. I urge you to read carefully and understand his comments and legal advice. Here is link:

      http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-future-of-the-uk-overseas-territories/written/93932.pdf

      The local LGBT community should think about standing with him, not against him, because he is selflessly dedicating his time and energy to you all.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree with that. It’s about all lgbtq rights. Why does one have to be more important than the other? He’s fighting and I applaud him. I’m sure Vicky & Chantelle are too. Change doesn’t happen if only two people fight for it.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    LOL!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why can’t they simply do what many heterosexual couples do and just live together? My partner and I have never been married but we enjoy the status of a male/female couple in what is referred to in a number of states in the USA and many parts of this region as a ‘common-law’ marriage. The real issue here is that Cayman Islands’ Law requires a long-term relationship, gay or heterosexual, to be formalised. I have ex-pat friends on these islands who were forced to marry in order to comply with the PR requirements – isn’t that also discrimination?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Shut up. Just go back and think about how privileged that comment was. Wow.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Government does not “force” anyone to marry.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The difficulty with your point, is that there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. This is a misconception which many co-habiting couples (gay or otherwise) are simply unaware of. A non-married couple does not have the same rights as a married couple if they split up (divorce). Whereas a married couple have rights under the Matrimonial Causes Law in terms of division of assets etc, cohabiting couples have to revert to the law of trusts to determine property rights – a very different animal.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Regardless of who you love, your sexual orientation, or where you might be from, there are no recognized civil rights nor “co-habitation” laws in the Cayman Islands, and that is discriminatory. You have been fortunate not to come to realize (out of crisis), that there are no legal rights of visitation to your partner in hospital situations, esp critical care “living will” situations, and no legal estate planning provision, even though expenses may have been comingled for decades and you may own property and other assets. Let’s hope you never have to make a scene at a hospital, pounding your fists on the reception desk to see your partner. This actually affects you and your hetero partner, just as much as your LGBT neighbours. As you say, being “forced to marry” is another example of discrimination.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….because the fight is more than about being able to sleep on a piece of mattress together…it appears that you know nothing about our struggle and why this is important to many of us. I encourage you to do your own research about why this is all important but I will say this.

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