The ruling is described as an 'affront to human dignity' by local activist, Leonardo Raznovich
Cayman Islands barrister and LGBT activist Dr Leonardo Raznovich, above, said he was “in shock” after learning that the UK’s Privy Council this week sided with the government of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, which had banned same-sex marriages.
The matter reached the Privy Council after the Bermuda government fought a local Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay marriage.
LBC reports today (Tuesday) that the Privy Council, which serves as the final court of appeals for several islands in the Caribbean, yesterday upheld the ban, and quoted Raznovich as saying said he plans to fight the decision.
He told the Associated Press he was “in shock” and described the ruling as an “affront to human dignity”.
The Cayman Islands case reached the Privy Council after two women—Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush— were denied a marriage licence in 2018.
The couple went to court, and in March 2019, the Cayman Grand Court ruled in their favour after stating that the denial violated the law.
Months later, a local appeals court overturned the decision, stating that the Cayman constitution does not allow for same-sex marriage.
However, it ordered the government to provide the women with a legal status equivalent to marriage.
Raznovich said that did not happen, and so the legal team sought a ruling from the Privy Council in London.
The case has infuriated some in the Cayman Islands, where several legislators, accused of being homophobic, sought to have Raznovich deported several years ago.
While the British territory of nearly 70,000 people is considered to be socially conservative, Raznovich noted that the premier gave a speech last year during the gay pride parade.
The Privy Council acknowledged that the historical background of same -sex marriage was:
One of the stigmatisation, denigration and victimisation of gay people, and that the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples may create among gay people a sense of exclusion and stigma.
British judges, Lords Reed and Hodge, Lady Arden and Dame Victoria Sharp, backed the ban.
Lord Sales was the only judge to dissent.
In May 2017, Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal, but the party that won the general election months later rejected that ruling and allowed only domestic partnerships.
One senator said during the debate at the time:
Society largely does not support same-sex marriage nor is it prepared to accept it at this time.
The issue bounced through various courts until it reached the Privy Council.
Billie Bryan, founder and president of Colours Cayman, an advocacy group supporting the LGBTQ community, said the Privy Council:
Has done nothing more than reassert the oppressive political environment of yesteryear.
The London judges also ruled unanimously that gay people do not have the right to marry in the Cayman Islands based on its constitution.
Caribbean activists had hoped for a favourable ruling to help sway public opinion in a largely conservative region where colonial anti-sodomy laws remain on the books and same-sex marriage is rarely considered a right.
However, judges wrote that:
The effect of the board’s interpretation is that this is a matter of choice for the legislative assembly rather than a right laid down in the constitution.