Court puts equal marriage on hold in Cayman Islands

Court puts equal marriage on hold in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands’ Court of Appeal on Wednesday (10 April) delayed the implementation of last month’s landmark same-sex marriage ruling.

Same-sex couples, therefore, will have to wait months before knowing if they can tie the knot.

The Cayman Islands government appealed the Grand Court. On March 29, the court ruled defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

The Grand Court also said the current definition of marriage under the constitution violated numerous rights.

Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush brought the court challenge.

The appeals court president on Wednesday, however, said there could be a legal anomaly if same-sex couples married and the March ruling was later overturned.

There was shouts of ‘Praise the lord, thank you, Jesus,’ and ‘bigots’ from the public gallery, according to the Cayman Compass.

The appeals court will hear the full appeal in August.

Government attorney Reshma Sharma argues the Grand Court overstepped its powers by revising the Marriage Law directly, to create what she described as ‘a new species of marriage,’ Cayman Compass reports.

Landmark ruling

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of the Grand Court last month ruled in favor of Day and Bush.

Smellie’s ruling stated the law must change in all areas of the territory so same-sex couples have the same access to the institution of marriage as heterosexual couples.

After Smellie issued the decision, Day said: ‘It shows that love wins and I am really happy that the right result was received today.’

Day and Bush submitted their application to marry last April, but the government rejected it.

In the decision, Smellie stated: ‘This Court is… bound not to allow the violation of the Petitioners’ rights to continue without redress.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, however, had a different take, calling the decision ‘interesting’.

‘Understandably, the government will have to take some time to consider it and think about how to move forward,’ he reportedly told journalists upon leaving the courthouse.

LGBTI rights in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is an autonomous British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean Sea. Three islands make up the territory — Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

About 60,000 people live there. It is the second-most populated British territory after Bermuda, which legalized same-sex marriage last year.

Britain’s Caribbean Territories (Criminal Law) Order, 2000 decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 2001.

Age of consent, however, is higher for LGBTI people (21) than it is for heterosexual individuals (16).

There are also reports of homophobia and discrimination within the territory and the constitution does not protect LGBTI people.

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Author: Rik Glauert