INCISE Senior Visiting Research Fellow Dr Leonardo Raznovich comments on the recent socio-legal changes around marriage equality in the Cayman Islands.

On 29 March 2019, the Grand Court in the Cayman Islands made important progress towards equality and a fairer society. It declared unconstitutional the definition of marriage, in that section 2 of the Marriage Law 2010 defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The court concluded that this definition breached numerous rights in the Bill of Rights of the Cayman Islands Constitution, such as the right to private life and family life and the prohibition of discrimination on “any other status” which includes sexual orientation.

In finding these breaches, the court had no choice but to re-write the definition of the marriage in accordance with section 5 of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order 2009 and section 2 of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (UK).

In time, this decision will be viewed as a victory for all. Right now, however, we celebrate that LGBTI people have acquired the freedom to love one another with dignity in the eyes of the law.

It must be highlighted that the government of the Cayman Islands have had ample opportunity to address this issue but have consistently failed to act.  I and others have warned many times over that equality for all is required by the Constitution, without any exception. The court has done the job that the government was unable, or unwilling, to do.

If we look to the Bermuda same-sex marriage case, not a single judge was convinced by the arguments of the Bermudian government that civil marriage must remain an exclusive heterosexual institution.

Furthermore, the UK Parliament has set its view very clear on this matter: same sex marriage must be extended to every corner of the UK including all its overseas territories.

One cannot embrace love without freedom; one cannot embrace freedom without dignity; one cannot embrace dignity without equality.

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