Caymans define marriage amid fears UK will impose civil partnerships

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

An amendment to legislation in the Cayman Islands defining marriage as between a man and a woman was approved by the territory’s Legislative Assembly on Monday.

However, the proposed change to the law but does not mention civil partnerships.

Recent UK government regulations allow the partners of citizens of British Overseas Territories that have passed civil partnership legislation to apply for citizenship.

However, the UK has not extended partnership legislation across the 14 territories, which include Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and the Cayman Islands, and none of them have moved to legalise same-sex partnerships.

Cayman opposition parties want the law extended to ban civil partnerships as they fear the UK or EU may impose them at some point in the future.

“If we were to define civil unions it would mean we would condone them, and accept them and allow them, and I’m saying otherwise,” Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts told the Caymanian Compass last month.

“Cayman does not recognise the existence of civil partnerships,” said the paper.

“The only place the words “civil partnership” appear in Cayman Islands law is within a set of regulations, which govern British passports and British nationality within overseas territories.”

The UK and the Caymans are due to begin talks about constitutional reform later this month.

Homosexual acts between consenting adults were decriminalised in the Caymans by a UK Order in Council in December 2000.

In the wake of an incident in which a gay man was detained by police on the Cayman Islands after kissing his boyfriend in public, there has been much discussion of gay rights in the territory.

The Director of Tourism apologised to Aaron Chandler, an American visitor who was targeted and held by police in May for kissing his boyfriend.

Mr Chandler said that the apology was appreciated but also made sense from a business point of view 70% of the Caribbean nation’s GDP comes from tourism.

The 23 year old American, on holiday with his partner, was detained by an off duty police officer and taken to a police station but not arrested. He was later released without charge.

Complaints about the couple kissing were reportedly made by fellow customers at the Royal Palms resort.

They deny that they behaved any differently from other straight guests.

Mr Chandler was told by the off duty police officer to not kiss his partner in public.

The couple decided to ignore the instruction and when later in the evening they kissed again Mr Chandler was physically taken away from the nightclub where they were drinking with friends and detained at the local station.