LGBT rights in the Cayman Islands

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LGBT rights in the Cayman Islands
LocationCaymanIslands.png
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2000[1]
Gender identity/expression
Military service UK responsible for defence
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No
Restrictions:
Constitutional ban
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Cayman Islands may still face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in the Cayman Islands, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory. Although the local Legislature and courts are independent from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's Government deals with all international relations on behalf of the Territory. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office oversees the governance of the Cayman Islands.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual acts were expressly decriminalised under Britain's Caribbean Territories (Criminal Law) Order, 2000.[2]

Britain’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights report on its Overseas Territories on Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1999 stated that “The United Kingdom Government is concerned that all Overseas Territories should adopt – as most of them, indeed, already do – substantially the same position as obtains in the United Kingdom itself in respect of capital punishment, judicial corporal punishment and the treatment as criminal offences of homosexual acts between consenting adults in private”.[3]

The age of consent is higher for homosexuals than it is for heterosexuals.[4]

Recognition of same-sex couples[edit]

In 2006, the Cayman "People for Referendum" activist group began protesting against LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, after the Dutch High Court ruled Aruba has to recognise same-sex marriages registered in the Netherlands. "People for Referendum" claimed that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) could force legal recognition of same-sex marriages in the Cayman Islands too.[3]

The new Constitution, approved in June 2009, notes the right of opposite-sex couples, who are of marriageable age as defined by law, to have their marriages recognised by the Government. The Constitution does not explicitly mention same-sex couples.[5]

In 2015, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin indicated that his Government was examining the immigration law and regulations to find a way to allow same-sex couples who are legally married in other jurisdictions the right to have their spouses as dependants.[6]

In July 2016, the Immigration Appeals Tribunal ruled in favour of a gay man who wished to be added to his spouse’s work permit as a dependent. The two men's application was made 14 months prior to the ruling and was rejected, they subsequently filed a lawsuit. A July 2016 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had significant implications for the lawsuit. The ECHR found that a refusal to grant a residence permit to a same-sex couple in Italy on family grounds was unjustified discrimination.[6] All same-sex couples now have immigration rights recognised, meaning same-sex couples can settle in the Cayman Islands without fear of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[7][8]

On 6 October 2016, the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands voted against a proposal to hold a referendum on whether the territory should legalise same-sex marriage. The proposal was voted down 9-8. It was filed by anti-gay MLA Anthony Eden after the Immigration Appeals Tribunal ruled to allow the same-sex partner of a work permit holder to remain in the Cayman Islands as a dependent on his partner’s permit. Premier Alden McLaughlin expressed his opposition to the referendum proposal.[9]

Discrimination protections[edit]

In 2009, the draft constitution for the Government of the Cayman Islands excluded LGBT rights. The British Foreign Affairs Committee described the decision to exclude sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination as "deplorable" and raised concerns that it breached human rights laws. It raised the possibility that Cayman Islands residents could be afforded less than the full protection to which they are entitled, under the European Convention on Human Rights.[10]

Military service[edit]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the British Armed Forces since 2000.[11]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2000)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No (Constitutional ban since 2009)
Recognition of same-sex couples No/Yes (Since 2016, for immigration purposes)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2000)
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]

References[edit]