As of today, September 28, same-sex couples can make their unions official and receive legal documentation in the neighbouring British Overseas Territory, the Cayman Islands. This is because of the Civil Partnership Law, which Cayman’s Governor approved though it was defeated in the territory’s Legislative Assembly. Cayman’s governor, Martyn Roper, said he was instructed to do so by the United Kingdom.
The Civil Partnership Law will provide same-sex couples with a legal framework equivalent to the marriage of heterosexual couples. The law outlines how couples can apply for a civil partnership licence and allows for the appointment of civil registrars and civil-partnership officers, who can officially formalise civil partnerships.
Controversial law Even as the law comes into effect today, tension is still high in the Cayman Islands as many religious and civil society groups have been protesting since Governor Roper approved the bill. Governor Roper stepped in after Cayman’s Domestic Partnership Bill was debated and rejected by the Legislative Assembly. The Governor then used his reserved powers under Section 81 of Cayman’s constitution to give assent to the bill. Governor Roper explained that: “UK Ministers instructed me to take this action to uphold the rule of law and comply with the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Judgment in November 2019.
The Court of Appeal declared that same sex couples were entitled, expeditiously, to legal protection in the Cayman Islands.” He added: “The UK, therefore, had no option but to step in to ensure we comply with the rule of law and international obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights.” Implications for BVI and other OTs? With the Civil Partnership Law now in effect in the Cayman Islands, it raises questions about whether the UK will ask Overseas Territories to follow suit. BVI News asked Governor Jaspert’s office whether this recent development in the Cayman Islands holds any implications for the BVI and other OTs? BVI News received the following response from Governor Jaspert’s office. ” The UK Government discusses human rights, including LGBT+ rights, with all the Overseas Territories’ governments to ensure they are respecting international obligations. It is the UK’s constitutional responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the people, including LGBT+ people, living in the Overseas Territories,” the response said. The response also said: “The UK government supports LGBT+ rights and believes that the strongest, safest and most prosperous societies are those in which all citizens can live freely and play a full and active part in society.” Premier mum BVI News also asked Premier Andrew Fahie similar questions as those sent to the Governor’s office.
However, he did not respond. With the Civil Partnership Law now in The Cayman Islands, fees will be charged for the registration of each union. BVI News asked Premier Fahie and Director of the Tourist Board Clive McCoy, whether the territory’s tourism could be boosted by such a law. However, both leaders gave no response.