Anti same-sex marriage rally fuels homophobia

| 15/04/2019 | 333 Comments
Cayman News Service

Anti-gay sign at rally, 13 April 2019

(CNS): A rally organised by local churches on Saturday against the legalisation of same-sex marriage attracted over a thousand people, who gathered in Heroes Square, George Town. Although the event slogan was “We love all people, but we say no to same sex”, there were numerous homophobic signs on display and many people condemned the LGBTI community. The rally came at the end of a polarizing two-week period, after Chief Justice Anthony Smellie legalised same-sex marriage following a successful legal petition by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden, who had been refused a marriage licence because of their sexual orientation.

On 29 March the chief justice delivered his decision in the case after finding that Day and Bodden had been discriminated against by the government and that several of their rights, as set out in the Cayman Islands Constitution, were being violated.

Just five days later the government announced it would appeal and applied to the courts for a stay to reverse the chief justice’s decision to amend the Marriage Law to make it constitutional. Within a matter of days government was able to secure a hearing with the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, which happened to be sitting for its spring session.

Cayman News Service

Rally against same-sex marriage

The appeal court opted to grant the stay on 10 April because it said government had not made any arrangements for the legal implications of the case on other laws, and until the appeal was settled there would be the risk of legal anomalies and uncertainty that had not yet been addressed.

During the last ten days pastors, politicians and some members of the public have pushed the boundaries on hate-speech aimed not just at the issue of same-sex marriage but also the growing visibility of the LGBTI community, using traditional Christian values as the platform.

A narrative that being gay is a lifestyle choice that is being imposed on Cayman by outside forces and hidden agendas has led to a significant amount of unpleasant rhetoric in the parliament, on the streets, from the church pulpit and across social media.

At the rally on Saturday these themes were promoted again, alongside vitriolic condemnation of gay people. The speakers included Pastor Alson Ebanks from the Cayman Minister’s Association, which has been at the forefront of the campaign against marriage equality. He said that Christians were not being hateful, they just did not agree with same sex-marriage.

He said Cayman is a Christian country, “not because everyone …is a Christian but because we are a country that has been founded on biblical principles”.

Cayman News Service

Some of the signs were aimed at the LGBTI community

However, there were numerous signs being held by attendees at the rally that were not just promoting Christian values but condemning gay people, with messages such as “Cayman Islands is not Gayman Islands” and “Same sex laws will mean sin taught in schools”, and others suggesting homosexuality is a choice because there is no “gay gene”.

Last week a protester outside the Legislative Assembly quoted a passage from the Bible that called for the death of homosexuals and legislators had engaged in two days of debate condemning the idea of gay marriage. Even when the debate was over, the subject dominated the agenda and even led to jokes at the expense of the LGBTI community.

House Speaker McKeeva Bush, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, as well as opposition MLAs Anthony Eden, Alva Suckoo and Chris Saunders all had front-row seats for the rally on Saturday, as local politicians continue to battle with each other to be the loudest voices against equality.

The education minister had even called for the public to disrupt the marriage of Day and Bodden, which had been planned for 10 April before the appeal court granted a stay that prevented the ceremony from going ahead, even though the couple had legally obtained a licence.

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Comments (333)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    LGBTI. The I at the end meaning intersex. Why should intersex be added to LGBTI when intersexed individuals have no control and are not at fault for being born intersex.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It makes me feel a bit better seeing that the majority of MLAs did not attend this rally, seems they have other priorities, actions speak louder than words.

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