Still no Privy Council decision on gay marriage case

| 25/02/2022 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service
Governor Martyn Roper in a Cayman Pride t-shirt

(CNS): This past Wednesday marked one year since the appeal by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden-Bush to reinstate the chief justice’s March 2019 ruling legalising same-sex marriage was argued before the Privy Council in London, but they have still not received a decision.

A judicial review last year of the governor’s move to introduce civil partnerships, which provided a route to legal unions for gay couples, to ascertain whether it was constitutional also remains unanswered.

The LGBT community therefore still faces considerable uncertainty about the future of the partnerships already registered under the Civil Partnerships Act and whether they will see the introduction of true equality any time soon.

In February last year, Day and Bodden-Bush had their day in the UK high court, where they argued that their human rights were still being denied, as Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling was stayed almost immediately by the appeal court and then overturned following a successful appeal by the government.

The couple’s lawyer at the time pointed out the continued precarious nature of the situation in Cayman for same-sex couples and the six-year struggle the couple has had to marry.

“Even the provision of a limited civil partnership regime is now itself under legal threat… By contrast, had the chief justice’s judgment of 29 March 2019 remained in force, the appellants would by now have been validly married,” he said.

Leo Raznovitch, a lawyer and LGBT activist with Colours Caribbean who assisted in both the Privy Council case and the judicial review, expressed his concern that these matters have not been addressed.

“It is really disappointing from a human rights and human dignity standpoint that we are now over a year with no decision from the Privy Council on the matter of equality for LGBTI people in the UK’s overseas territories,” he said. “Even in the Privy Council’s own view, this constitutes unreasonable ‘excessive delay’ – as they held in a case which did not even deal with human rights,” he added, referring to the case of Cobham v Joseph Frett (British Virgin Islands) [2000] UKPC 49 [35].

“Some British judges sitting in the Privy Council have shown an inability to understand the very basic aspect of the constitutional system that the British bequeathed to its Caribbean territories,” Raznovitch stated.

“They have, in particular, shown a lack of comprehension, as Lord Bingham explained in Surratt v Trinidad and Tobago [2007] UKPC 55, of the legal implication of incorporating a declaration of rights and freedoms into a written constitution.”

Raznovitch said he did not know if this was due to a lack of understanding, given that the UK does not have a codified written constitution, or perhaps something worse, as he accused some British judges of becoming the last defenders of the worst of European colonialism, “as they require, in the words of Lord Hoffmann in Boyce v the Queen [2004] UKPC 32, compliance in the Caribbean with degrading and inhumane colonial laws with their rulings in the third millennium”.

However, he said he remained hopeful that the delay is because “Chantelle and Vickie’s case will mark a turning point in the history of the Privy Council for the Caribbean finally embracing human dignity, as Chief Justice Smellie said in justifying his decision… so that we can all live in every corner of the UK in a more equal and more decent society.”

Raznovich confirmed that the Colours legal team, which was accepted as an interested party in the judicial review brought by Kattina Anglin and the Christian Association for Civics, heard by Justice Richard Williams in December, has not heard when a decision can be expected in that case either.

Anglin had argued that Governor Martyn Roper was wrong to use his powers under section 81 of the Constitution to pass the Civil Partnership Act after the Legislative Assembly (now Parliament) had voted the law down.

In her JR she was seeking to have the law overturned, which would invalidate the union of more than two dozen same-sex couples who have taken advantage of the law to formalise their relationships.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The wait is almost at an end. Privy council verdict will be published on Monday 14th March at 11am GMT

  2. Anonymous says:

    Some good news at least

  3. Anonymous says:

    A terrible comment about human rights in the Cayman Islands.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Leave it to Cayman to drag their feet on a human rights issue that most countries have made and moved past.

    Love is love.

  5. Anonymous says:

    UK has been through alot more than Cayman in past two years, entitled you are not, others pay taxes in UK and wait. Guess patience and take your queue in the line do not apply in Cayman. What happened to island pace.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, the UK can walk and chew gum at the same time (we hope). This matter was in the judicial/courts, it is being slowed down for political reasons.

      And as for Island Pace… That is a term referring to Caymanians from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s not exerting themselves – I resent that! Any attempt to portray it for vacationers is simply that! Does not apply to us.

    • Anonymous says:

      (a) Anti-gay Cabinet members and Speaker
      (b) Hate-filled Backbench that failed same-sex Caymanians during their decades in office.
      (c) Governor that wants to appear to be independent, unbaised, abiding status quo while awaiting a hand-down from PC.
      (d) Extreme Far Right Middle America and “Caribbean Cause” that subscribe to the impingement of these human rights and sponsor challenges to status quo.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Well, Panton can’t upset his cabinet. Most of them are probably against it. The most infamous one is Ju Ju. The ironic part is that Alden no longer has the anti-gays in his cabinet and he’s not in control anymore.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow that’s a alot of jargon. SO what’s your excuse about them and the weed then??

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is hope that the Privy Council’s decision is delayed, because they are taking their time to get it right.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bermuda has also had its ground-shifting precedent-setting LGBTQ family case stalled at Privy Council for over a year. Leo Raznovitch might be on to the real problem.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not right now bro, we’re going through alot

    • Anonymous says:

      When it comes to same sex marriage, it’s apparently never a good time to deal with it and get it right : always something else. It should have been done years ago but nope … Always going through a lot and it’s never a good time to do a right thing as it seems to be.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      We are always, forever, going to be going through a lot. That is a piss-poor excuse for not attending to the very basic human rights which should be afforded everyone who lives in these islands.

      If one citizen is marginalised and not given full human rights, the sanctity of our society and laws are damaged. Would you wish for your neighbor to have less rights than yourself?

      Get it done, CIG and stop dragging your feet. The future has already judged you. Make the right choice.

      Nobody should care who someone loves. All people should be equal under the law. There is virtually no way to disagree with that statement. Get it done.

      • Autumn Leaf says:

        Here’s my take on marriage:

        All people are not equal. Anyone who believes otherwise is mistaken. Do you know what equal means? To be equal everyone would be the same, but they aren’t and will never be!
        I do not care who loves who, or who marries who. As far as I am concerned, it is none of my business………

    • Anonymous says:

      No – You just won’t support 21’st century accepted morals vs 15’th century imposed immorals.

  9. Slacker says:

    The problem with the “Christian Association for Civics” is that their position is based on their morals, which in turn are framed by their Christian beliefs.
    If it was based on an independent Ethical opinion instead of Morals, there would be no discussion or issue.

    • Jeff Fleming says:

      “Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Obedience is doing what is told regardless of what is right.”
      H.L. Mencken

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