DP debate stirs up various prejudices

| 29/07/2020 | 159 Comments
Cayman News Service
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour shares some of his ideas on sexuality with the LA

(CNS): Anti-gay rights bias and homophobia weren’t the only prejudices and odd reactions that politicians displayed over the last two days as they debated the Domestic Partnership Bill. From the opposition leader referring to the former governor as “that woman” to the health minister’s warning that women’s sexual drive increases during a full moon, the debate led some MLAs to reveal strange opinions as well as intolerance and discrimination towards some of their constituents.

Most of the MLAS who objected to the bill said they did so because of their Christian beliefs, despite the fact that the legislation has no connection to religion and would not change the institution of marriage.

The law provides a legal framework for couples to register relationships, both same- or opposite-sex, in order to access rights similar to those bestowed on married couples without entering into the institution of marriage, either because they chose not to or are prevented from doing so because they are a same-sex or transgender couple.

Nevertheless, as the registration of same-sex couples appears to some MLAs to equate to an acceptance of homosexual sex, many still objected to the bill. Despite displaying their religion on their sleeves, they appeared comfortable transgressing social decency with a combination of hate-speech, intolerance and judgement of others.

It is not the first time that the legislature has displayed such unabashed discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Cayman during debates, and as on previous occasions other prejudices such as xenophobia, misogyny and religious intolerance were were also on full display.

Prejudice and discrimination against, and fear of, the LGBT community was, however, at the core of the debate.

Many MLAs repeated assertions that in the past, Caymanians who “were that way” had been happy with their lot, demanding no rights. Some politicians claimed that it was not until foreign gays arrived and raised such issues that a situation of “them and us” had been created and this once silent and happy minority began demanding rights that they did not deserve.

Independent LA Ezzard Miller (NS) was the only non-government MLA to offer his support for the bill. He was also considerably more tolerant than his colleagues, suggesting that, although some of his constituents wanted him to vote against the bill, he was not prepared to discriminate against anyone to please some voters.

“This is about doing what I believe is right for the people, for the country and even for the ultra-right Christian fanatics who take this hard line,” he said. He spoke about people who were telling them they opposed the legislation on the basis of “one verse or a chapter in the Bible in isolation”, which he said they used to try to prove that the efforts to legislate for domestic partnerships was wrong.

“I’ve got a whole list of verses from the Bible, and most of those versus contain sins and discretions that were equally bad as same-sex relations but they are ignored,” he said.

Miller said he believed the bill provides the necessary rights for “this minority group”, met the requirements of the court and protected the status of marriage, which he said had been the main concern from the Christian community.

On the government benches, Austin Harris (PRO) and David Wight (GTW) gave their support to the bill, alongside Cabinet members, Deputy Premier Minister Moses Kirkconnell, Commerce Minister Joey Hew, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers and Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, who displayed much more tolerance and understanding of the rights of the LGBT community, regardless of professed Christian beliefs.

McTaggart said that the bill was about setting right a wrong that “has existed for many years” because of the inaction of the LA. He said it was less about same-sex unions than ending unchecked discrimination. “In today’s world discrimination has no place, especially when it comes to government,” he added.

Austin Harris said he might lose his seat by supporting the bill but he would still do so because “it was the right thing to do”.

However, some members of the government as well as the opposition were extreme in their condemnation of gay rights.

When Health Minister Dwayne Seymour moved on from his ideas that the full moon fuels women’s sexual desires and men should take advantage of this to help procreate and save the nation, as that was his main concern about gays, he went on to say that the LGBT community was trying to “bully us into submission”.

Displaying a misunderstanding of human rights, he questioned when “our rights will be protected” and suggested that people like him were being discriminated against because of their desire to protect the sanctity of marriage.

However, the Domestic Partnership Bill does not infringe on the Marriage Law and is meant to be a separate but functionally equivalent institution.

Meanwhile, Anthony Eden (SAV), a fundamentalist Christian, railed against human rights in general, as well as the “slippery slope” of condoning what he called an alternative lifestyle.

Eden appeared to bemoan the fact that they were losing the right to deride homosexuality without facing some form of consequence for displaying prejudice and intolerance toward the LGBT community, which he believed people should be allowed to do based on Biblical teachings. He also repeated previous claims that LBGT people pose a threat to children.

Between her condemnations of gay rights, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who is also a Christian conservative, wore her political hat. Calculating the numbers, she urged her colleagues not to vote for the bill, in direct opposition to the premier’s request, and asked members to vote for God’s law, not man’s law. Comparing herself to various Biblical characters, she said there may be consequences if the bill failed, but “if I perish, I perish”.

The video footage of the debate which began Monday morning and ended late Tuesday evening is now available on the CIGTV YouTube channel (see below).



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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (159)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Throw political correctness in the trash where it belongs!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ironic, given that political correctness in Cayman seems to consist of pandering to the religious extremists, as rather amply demonstrated by our politicians.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The movie the poster (29/7/2020 @ 8:30 pm) is referring to is called ‘Prayers For Bobby.’

    Watch it. I dare ya.

  3. noneya says:

    Everyone in the comments clearly missed the part where… the UK will literally impose the DP bill anyway. The whole debate and vote was an illusion of choice. The decision never rested with the 17 Caymanians that voted (either for or against).

    • Anonymous says:

      Politicians here actively WANT the UK to impose it on us, so that they can keep in with their voters and say “it wasn’t me” while at the same time bashing the “mother country” for unwarranted intrusion in our domestic affairs. This is a classic Caymanian politician’s move (or lack of move, to be more precise), and has already happened in the past with the UK outlawing capital punishment and legalising homosexuality.

  4. CIG imitates a “B” movie says:

    This whole fiasco is very reminiscent of a 60s “B” movie The Lost Continent where a ship flounders in a sea of deadly sargasso weed. The crew & passengers are attacked and held captive by a group of misfits lead by a boy king and a throwback oracle in a pointy hood from the Spanish Inquisition.

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