The United Kingdom continued a long tradition of anti-LGBTQ action as bans on gay marriage in the UK’s territories of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda were upheld by the country’s Privy Council, the highest appeals court for many UK Caribbean territories.
The Privy Council upheld existing bans on marriage equality in both the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, citing the fact that same-sex nuptials are explicitly banned under their respective, independent constitutions.
According to PinkNews, both the Cayman Islands and Bermuda have legalized — and subsequently re-criminalized — gay marriage.
In the Cayman Islands, gay marriage was temporarily legalized in March 2019 after a lesbian couple sued to have their marriage recognized by the government. But authorities appealed the lower court’s decision, resulting in a reversal – although the appeals court said that the government had to provide “legal status equivalent to marriage” for same-sex couples.
The couple then appealed to the Privy Council, which sided with the appeals court in upholding the ban.
In Bermuda, the government legalized gay marriage in May 2017 in response to an ongoing legal battle, but the government later recriminalized the practice in 2018 before once again legalizing it that same year. Opponents of same-sex marriage then appealed to the Privy Council in a last-ditch effort to keep same-sex nuptials illegal.
LGBTQ activists were understandably frustrated, enraged, and shocked by the Privy Council’s decision. Cayman Islands LGBTQ activist Leonardo Raznovich told The Associated Press that “the decision was an affront to human dignity.”
“The Privy Council has done nothing more, by its decision, than reassert the oppressive political environment of yesteryear,” he said in a statement.
The University of Oxford LGBTQ+ Society condemned the ruling in their own statement posted on Twitter on March 14.
“This outcome denies LGBTQ+ Caymanians, who are also British citizens, full equality, their human dignity, and continues to uphold the segregation of LGBTQ+ people in the region,” the statement reads. “It also regrettably reconfirms the lack of LGBTQ+ rights in British Overseas Territories and the disinterest of the UK government in promoting equality for all British citizens.”
Our and @OxfordACS's statement regarding the PC's judgement on the Cayman Islands same-sex marriage case and the President of Magdalen's involvement. We stand in solidarity and love with Chantelle & Vickie today. pic.twitter.com/706UzKrVqw
— Oxford LGBTQ+ Soc (@OULGBTQ) March 14, 2022
Although same-sex marriage was legalized in the UK in 2013, the law did not extend to many of the country’s territories, which still have Victorian-era laws criminalizing same-sex relations — imposed by British colonialists — on the books.
In their statement, the University of Oxford LGBTQ+ Society observes that with these rulings, “the Privy Council is showing its commitment to the continuation of British colonial ideology over the rights of its citizens.”
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