A judge had legalised same-sex marriage back in March.
Just months after Chief Justice Anthony Smellie legalised same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands, the government has successfully appealed against his ruling. At the time, the Chief Justice agreed that a ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.
However, in August, the government of the Cayman Islands launched an appeal against the ruling. Back in April, the country’s premier, Alden McLoughlin said: “I and my entire government have great respect for the chief justice and indeed the independence of the judiciary.
“But even the best judges get it wrong from time to time. Hard cases make bad law. None of us who are human are infallible.
“As premier I will state what I have said many times before – I have no doubt that the feelings of the majority of Caymanians are that marriage should retain its traditional and religious definition and meaning, the union of one man and one woman.”
In court, the government argued that the law “deliberately” uses words like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ to define that marriage should only be between them. They also argued that the Chief Justice’s ruling could have legalised polyamrous marriages. In their ruling, the Court of Appeals referred to a European Court of Human Rights ruling that said same-sex marriage wasn’t a human right, and felt that the Chief Justice had put too much weight on other countries having legalised same-sex marriages.
With this ruling, the Cayman Islands has become the second place in the world to ban same-sex marriages, after Bermuda. However, in the case of Bermuda that ban was subsequently overturned.
However, despite banning same-sex marriages, the Court of Appeals offered unions that should have “legal status equivalent to marriage.” It also ruled that if the Cayman Islands didn’t legislate for this, then Britain should “recognise its legal responsibility and take action to bring this unsatisfactory state of affairs to an end.”
In a statement following the ruling, lawyer and LGBTQ activist Leonardo Raznovich said: “It is a sad day for Caymanians because their constitution has not been properly upheld by their own courts, and for this reason a sad day for the jurisdiction and its future.”
The Cayman News Service reports the government’s office released a statement following the ruling, saying: “While I do appreciate the ruling, I am mindful that it comes with a declaration that requires immediate action from the government.
“The Court of Appeal declared that, ‘Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush are entitled, expeditiously, to legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage’.”
It added: “The government will carefully consider the full judgment to determine how best to proceed.”
Opposition politicians Ezzard Miller and Kenneth Bryan backed the move, with Miller saying: “The premier has my full support for such legislation and I encourage him to act before the UK intervenes and passes legislation through Orders in Council that allows marriages of same-sex persons.
“I call on all the religious organisations in the Cayman Islands to lean on their Christian tolerance and compassion to support legislation allowing civil unions between same-sex persons.”
The governor of the Cayman Islands, Martyn Roper, also gave his commitment to the ruling being followed. “I recognise that this issue generates strong opinions, however we should treat everyone equally and with respect,” he said.
“I have carefully noted the decision and the comments that have been made and I will work closely with the Cayman Islands Government to ensure that the declaration that the Court of Appeal has made is acted upon as quickly as possible.”