Activists aim for broad hate crime law

| 21/01/2022 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service
Governor Martyn Roper delivers an address after the Pride Parade in August 2021

(CNS): Noel Cayasso-Smith, president of the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation, says that efforts by local activists campaigning for hate crime legislation in Cayman have begun to bear fruit. The governor recently held a meeting with representatives from the Foundation, Colours Caribbean and the Red Cross, and an independent expert.

Speaking to CNS after the meeting, Cayasso-Smith said the idea of a broad piece of legislation offering greater protection to all vulnerable groups against targetted hate crimes is taking shape. He stressed the importance of a law that would cover disability, religion and race, as well as sexuality, because it’s not only gay people who are subjected to violence and hate because of who they are.

Cayasso-Smith said the government is focused on meeting with all of the relevant communities in Cayman so they can begin putting together the type of legislation that could protect all vulnerable groups from hate crimes.

Many countries now have hate crime laws that are designed to elevate the seriousness of assaults based on hate, targetting people because of their race, religion, colour, creed, disability or sexual orientation.

Cayasso-Smith said that while the LGBT community has led the campaign for this legislation. such a law must protect all of those who are vulnerable. He said he welcomed engagement with the groups affected by hate crime, and that everyone needs to feel safe and not fear that they might be targetted because of who they are.

He said he was really pleased that the process had got going after he had contacted the governor about the idea of hate crime legislation, as it showed that the authorities have community safety at heart.

Billie Bryan from Colours also met with Premier Wayne Panton the following day to discuss the Cayman Islands’ international legal obligation to have such legislation in place under the European Convention On Human Rights (ECHR).

She also said that the authorities have been very receptive and understanding about the significance of such legislation to protect not only LGBTQIA+ people but also other minorities, such as people with disabilities or people with HIV.

Following the recent homophobic assault on a same-sex couple, the LGBT community has been deeply concerned that there is no specific protection from discrimination if their identities became public.

Colours Caribbean also wants to see any new law cover discrimination against the gay community. They said it is illogical for people to now have access to same-sex civil partnerships but not be protected against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, for example, in the workplace or when accessing healthcare or other public and private services.

Colours Youth Programme representative Soleil Parkinson also discussed with the premier the importance of such legislation and the introduction of preventative and protective measures against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia across the jurisdiction, especially for LGBTQIA+ youth.

She said many people her age still feel unsafe expressing their gender identity or sexual orientation for fear of harassment and are actively seeking safer environments where they will be more socially accepted.

Bryan said that Colours Caribbean continues the push for both a hate crime law and anti-discrimination legislation.


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Category: Community, Laws, Local News, Politics

Comments (59)

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  1. A says:

    I would like to see the crime stats to see who is mostly targeted by crime, I believe most violent crimes are committed by men and mostly against women but also against men, a large percentage of those men would also be heterosexual men. Being poor would also have a greater risk of being a victim of violence/crime.

    Young men (regardless of skin colour) stabbing/shooting each other outside of a nightclub is also a hate crime.

    The inclusion of everyone in this legislation seems to ignore that women, regardless of sexual orientation or skin colour, are usually on the receiving end of violence from men, and it is always hateful, but so common that nothing changes. Focussing on a minority group to prioritise their grief over a large group is very entitled. Everyone who is a victim of crime are equal in their grief. When women are no longer being beaten, raped, controlled at such a rate, it will be easier to listen to others complain. It is salt in the wound for every crime against women that LGBTQIA+ are made a priority over 50% of the population/women.

    I don’t know how Asexuals are included as an oppressed minority? sounds inflated.

    Stonewall started out as a group to help LGB but have gone off the rails and are very manipulative, mostly focussed on the TQ+

  2. Caymanian says:

    I can’t believe some of the stuff that I’m reading in the comments here. Seems like some people don’t believe that hates crimes should be specifically called out for what they are. Well, I for one believe that crimes committed against a person because of their sexual orientation or their ethnicity or their religion should indeed be called crimes fueled by hate, and they should be treated as particularly heinous and the punishment should be more severe to act as a deterrent. I was born and raised in the US and I can only hope that Cayman never experiences the level of twisted hatred that occurs in that country every day. When my light-skinned Caymanian father and my dark skinned mother moved into the neighborhood that I grew up in, we were considered the first “black” family to move there. While many of our neighbors did not openly display bigotry, their true feelings were reflected in the how one by one they sold their homes and moved away. It was called White Flight. I’ll also never forget the swastikas that were painted on the walls of buildings that lined the route of our walk to school. It took much older kids to explain to me what those weird black lines meant.

    I have no problem at all with the implementation of hate crimes legislation. I’ll support any measure that punishes that idiotic, narrow mindedness.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Before we go gung ho into hate crime legislation, I want the alleged attackers to be caught and prosecuted and the REASON behind the attack revealed.

    I have been privileged/unfortunate to be exposed to the rampant “Gay for Pay”, as well as the gay subculture which exists in Cayman. So before an unnecessary law is passed one must determine if the attack was hate-related or simply domestic violence.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hope this also extends to ageism and body shaming as well. Internationally in these pandemic times, being old, or overweight, is lumped into the “you deserve what’s coming”, acceptable casualty ranking. Logan’s Run was not supposed to be an aspirational dystopian future that we would embrace with real life governmental policy.

  5. When the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation and I proposed the Cayman Islands need a hate crime bill passed I also stated it should be for all three islands and to include everyone as it’s not only the LGBTQ+ community being affected by hate crime.

    We are a very long way to getting this bill passed and we hope to work with the Government on getting this done.

    Our goal is to hold a meeting at one of the town halls to hear from the community on what they feel should be placed in the hate crime bill.

    So much has happened over the years and the start of 2022, with many crimes, women being attacked, persons being stabbed, racial remarks, and the list continues.

    No human being should be subjected to any form of hate crime. Our little islands consist of many nationalities and times has changed and not for the better.

    In respect to the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation, we have always claimed to be an organization that supports all persons living on our three Islands no matter their sexual orientation, color, disabilities, and more.

    Since we open our doors back in April 2020, we have assisted many persons no matter what their sexual preference may be. It’s about living as one and continuing to show our true Cayman Kind!

    The (CLGBTQF) would like to thank everyone for their support.

    • Anonymous says:

      Crime is crime. It’s wrong and perpetrators should be punished. An assault against a straight person is the same as an assault against a black person, as a gay person as a trans person as a white person as a woman as a man as a muslim person as a jeish person and on and on.

      There are many ways to group people and there is no reason to afford crimes against one category of person some sort of special treatment.

      Circumstances of a crime ought to be taken into account by judges in sentencing hearings. Where a crime is more egregious for whatever reason, the judge ought to take that into account.

      Nothing else is necessary. One justice for all people is the fairest way to run society. We stray from that at our peril.

      • Anonymous says:

        No one deserves to be attacked.

        Nevertheless, when any group among us is attacked BECAUSE of who they are or where they come from, and when people from those groups must live in fear just going about their ordinary lives, we must do something more than just treat it the same as any other attack.

        The truth is that a white person never needs to fear being beaten up on account of their race, and a straight person never needs to fear being beaten up on account of their sexuality.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your last paragraph is incorrect and hypocritical.

        • Anonymous says:

          This is a nice sentiment and there is some truth to it. I appreciate it must be extra difficult to be gay in an intolerant society like this one. And no-one should live in fear in going about their daily business.

          But I think the point above still stands. Muslim people wearing traditional dress might be attacked BECAUSE they are Muslim. Jews are often attacked for being Jews. People of colour might be attacked BECAUSE of the colour of their skin. A white person might have fear of being beaten up for being white in some circumstances. There are all kinds of reasons why people commit crimes against other people.

          All of this is bad news and society should take steps to change it.

          But anyone who really thinks that someone who is willing to beat up someone for being gay is going to change their attitude because there is a separate law on the books with a harsher penalty is likely mistaken.

          We can do more by giving harsher sentences to people who commit crimes in egregious circumstances. And we already do. A crime of passion is different than a random attack.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Circumstances of a crime ought to be taken into account by judges in sentencing hearings. Where a crime is more egregious for whatever reason, the judge ought to take that into account.” – That was from 12:53pm, which 8:09pm was responding to. And sums up the miscommunication occurring between people otherwise in agreement.

          How do you take into account ‘hate’ without hate crime legislation?
          How do you write hate crime legislation without focus on the attributes being targeted?

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you!

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said

      • Anonymous says:

        Outdated social norms target outsiders, and their differences, and are emboldened by numbers, as if abhorrent behaviour were subject to popular consensus or vote. Civil and Human Rights are designed to protect those minorities who wouldn’t otherwise have recognition, or a voice, and recondition the behaviour of those others desensitised to their strife. That inclusivity is where one justice for all lives.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why?

  7. Anonymous says:

    #allcrimesmatter

  8. Anonymous says:

    No need to protect a specific segment of the population. The current laws are adequate.

    • Anonymous says:

      I beg to differ with those gaypril remarks, for example. I bet you have never been harrassed for not being gay.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have you ever been a straight man walking around when gay pride parade is in town? Plenty of unwanted harassment.

        • Anonymous says:

          Any woman can probably say the same about most men. What exactly is your point? We, gays, have so many opportunities here is Cayman within our community, rest assured we don’t need to go beyond the pool of options. Please… besides, don’t you have anything better to do than walking around gay pride event as a straight man if the whole event isn’t somewhere you would love to be?

        • Anonymous says:

          There’s been exactly 1 gay pride parade, and I can assure you no straight people were harassed.

          • Anonymous says:

            Straight male here. I’ve been to Amsterdam Pride. I can confirm I wasn’t harassed or felt threatened.

            If you felt that here, my word!

  9. Anonymous says:

    We need to add weed smokers to the list. The police hate us.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Although all crimes are bad, many crimes are poverty or drug related. They’re not justified of course, but victims are more often random and the goal is to get their money or valuables. Violators of hate crimes ONLY want to hurt the victim and have no personal gain as a possible goal, except for an emotional satisfaction. I do think that makes them more serious and deserving of a harsher punishment.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is the governor thinking of taking unilateral action to ensure that the proposed legislation becomes the law of the land? Also, how broadly is the government going to define a hate crime? A young lady recently described to me the way that she is being treated by her employer and if what she is saying is true I would consider her treatment a hate crime.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I remember hundreds of horrible comments on social media on the day of the Pride. I would love to hope a lot of those would be treated as hate crime eventually, just for future reference to avoid that level of harrassment : one would never think there is so much hate in people’s hearts until they felt free to display it. That was horrible to read and it caused distress.

  13. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    In general, I greatly support this pending legislation. I would like to talk about the practicality of it. For example, what behaviours/verbalisations would constitute and infraction under this law, and what would be the consequences.

    Those that know me know I am for equal rights under the law for everyone. EVERYone.

    I have watched things digress here in terms of crimes and hate against the LGBT community, and it makes me sick. I don’t clearly understand why some people think it is their right to persecute anyone who is law-abiding.

    I think our laws cover crimes against all people. I think we should push hard for equality for all, and that would include protections under the law. If a homophobe is calling a person a gender invective, they are a poor excuse for a human, but that bad behaviour is not necessarily actionable.

    The two men that were assaulted in their car — that was an assault. It is a crime, and I hope those criminals are found and prosecuted. I think it is a dangerous thing to legislate thought. If a person says sexually abusive things to a woman, they can be charged with ‘insulting the modesty of a woman.’ Elsewhere, that would be simple assault. I think we should prosecute and enforce the laws on the books. I think in general we fail in enforcement.

    I read the above article, and agree with the ideals, however they are not precise nor measurable. I would like to know what specific things would cover discrimination that are not already covered under the laws.

    I am fully against discrimination of any type, by race, sexual preference, gender, age, religion or skin tone. I want us to avoid a situation in which we draw sides, where we are mostly currently already in agreement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bigot! (Sarcasm)

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        I get that a lot. 😀

        Thank you for giving me the space to expound: I want this legislation, however what I DON’T want is a toothless unenforceable band-aid, which would only serve to allow politicians and others to point at and declare: “look what we did! Isn’t that enough?”

        I want it to be measurable, and enforceable and contain precise terms which we can actually use. RCIPS can’t act upon hurt feelings or trends in the workplace; they need to know X is accused of doing Z to Y (and why). Hate crimes aren’t perpetuated only against LGBTs.

  14. Anonymous says:

    All fine with me, so long as crime against me is treated just as hardhly even though I am none of those groups.

  15. Anonymous says:

    No one mentions that Cayman was once a protectorate of a certain Caribbean nation and is still heavily influenced by its culture of violence and homophobia. Unfortunately this affects people of all sexual orientations, races, genders and creeds here. Heck, even our no venomous snakes are hunted down and killed since they are deemed evil. Ingrained culture is a heard thing to change but kudos to you Mr. Cayasso keep up the good fight! It will take time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop making shit up. Cayman was NEVER a protectorate of Jamaica. Cayman was simply administered by the British in Jamaica, before Jamaica was a country. Caymanian culture and Jamaican culture are separate and distinct, although Jamaican culture is being allowed to overwhelm and replace Caymanian culture as countless Jamaicans attempt to flee their destroyed homeland for Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Far too late for that my friend. Jamrock mini is here and established, and I give it 30 years before this place is the 3rd world again.

      • Anonymous says:

        Being allowed to overwhelm is an understatement. Cayman culture is virtually non existent. The Jamaican culture is ubiquitous and the rest is Americanised. Caymanian culture only lives but barely and anecdotally at best. Once a few more old timers are gone the only place Caymanian culture will exist is in archives and the museum.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Cayasso, does you idea of a hate crime include the pointedly poor service I received at a certain SMB bar because of my accent & skin colour?

    • annnother says:

      I am a mixed couple white girl black guy for 30 yrs on this island. I am Caymanian and so is my spouse
      Most bars on 7 mile beach are VERY SLOW or ignore a local guy trying to order a drink. I swap with him because he is getting no where, and whala we get drinks. Its so bad that I just do the ordering. We need local bar tenders or people that just love people, Stop hiring people from countries that carry that nasty behavior half way across the world to come here and pretend they love CAYMAN.

      • Anonymous says:

        This 100%. I don’t believe for one second that skin colour has anything to do with your crap service. Just crap bar tenders.

      • Skeptical says:

        I find your story difficult to believe based on my experiences here.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re amazed that bar tenders tend to favour women at the bar and assume it has to be about race?

        Women of all colours get better services at bars all over the world regardless of ethnicity.

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you know it was because of your skin colour and not just regular old bad service that everyone experiences?

      Are you proposing bad service should be a hate cirme?

      • annnother says:

        Not proposing anything, just stating my experience and sharing my bit. Sorry but NOT JUST BAD service. Its called selected service. So step out and Make your own comments and stop assumptions

        • Anonymous says:

          I’ve “perceived” selective service before and I’m white… of course it could be because of your race, but given people of all races have experienced what you have, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to jump to that conclusion – unless it’s a conclusion you want to reach…

          Whatever makes you happy I guess.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bet you are a shit tipper.

      • Anonymous says:

        Shit tipper? Tips are levied automatically on your bill. Bad service or not, most places don’t even give you the choice of not tipping. Places in Asia view tips as kind of humiliating as one expects and typically receives impeccable service. Western society has it all wrong, tips should not be expected they should be hard earned.

    • Anonymous says:

      A hate crime has to consist of hate + a crime. Poor service is not a crime, Karen.

  17. Anonymous says:

    No to crime period. No extra special treatment for criminals. No extra special treatment for victims. Crime is crime. Victims are victims. End of story.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you scream all lives matter at a Black Lives Matter event? Do you scream all cancers matter at the breast cancer gala?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes. They do.

      • Anonymous says:

        I scream for ice cream!

      • Anonymous says:

        Advocate equal rights, not special rights or protections for subgroups.

        • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

          In principle, I agree, however we as a society tend to ignore or choose to not see crimes against peoples who have been downtrodden and are outspoken about their complaints.

          It is easy to say that all things should be applied equally — I say it myself often — however the observed reality around us is that the same laws are NOT applied equally here, and those are laws across the board.

          I don’t see upgrading some of the criminal law, but I would hope that we make a unique and historic effort to create something that is truly measurable and enforceable. Otherwise, it is just lip service.

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