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Cayman Islands legalizes same-sex marriage

The ruling is hoped to have an implications for LGBTQIA rights on other British overseas territories, which have their own legal systems. With this ruling, of the 20 jurisdictions over which the UK has a legal relationship, 15 now permit same-sex marriage.

Photo by Marc Babin from Unsplash.com

Everyone equal under the law.

The Cayman Islands legalized same-sex marriage after Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ruled that prohibitions on such relationships was unconstitutional.

The judgment was delivered after a case was filed by Chantelle Day and Vicky Bodden, who were refused a marriage license because they are a same-sex couple. The country’s senior judge decided in their favor, stating that not to allow them to marry is a “violation of the petitioners’ rights to continue”, and for the “indignities” that they and their daughter have been subjected to be “put to an immediate end”.

Smellie’s decision also noted that in refusing the petitioners a marriage license, the government had breached several of their human rights, including the right to a private family life and freedom of expression, and that it had discriminated against them on the basis of their sexual orientation, while also violating the women’s rights as enshrined in the Cayman Islands Constitution.

The chief justice noted in his ruling that no justification had been established by the government in its response to the petition to sustain what he said was the “severe form of discrimination”. He also made it clear that many inequities have existed in the name of tradition but that neither tradition or religion could form the “rational basis for a law”. Besides, he added, marriage is a secular institution.

Smellie ordered the modification of the law, instantly legalizing same-sex marriage in Cayman Islands. Specifically, Smellie ordered that section 2 of the Marriage Law be changed to state that “marriage” means “the union between two people as one another’s spouses”.

The ruling is hoped to have an implications for LGBTQIA rights on other British overseas territories, which have their own legal systems. With this ruling, of the 20 jurisdictions over which the UK has a legal relationship, 15 now permit same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland permits civil partnerships, while four overseas territories in the Caribbean – British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla – permit neither marriage or civil partnership. Bermuda supreme court legalized same-sex marriage in 2018.

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