(CMR) The Privy Council has upheld a decision by the Court of Appeal to overthrow a lower court's decision to allow same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands.
Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden-Bush took their case to the PC to appeal a ruling by the Court of Appeal, which said same-sex marriage was not legal in Cayman.
“I'm in shock. The decision is an affront to human dignity,” Leonardo Raznovich, the attorney who represented the couple, told The Associated Press.
The couple had filed a human rights case in the Cayman Islands courts after being refused a marriage license in 2018. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, in March 2019, made a ruling for changes to the country's marriage laws after finding that in refusing them a marriage license, the government breached several of their human rights.
However, the Cayman Islands Government argued that the Chief Justice erred in the initial decision. The Court of Appeal then overturned the decision while issuing directives for the government to find a solution. Governor Martyn Roper then implemented the Civil Partnership Law.
This law allows both opposite-sex and same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership and amends existing laws (other than the Marriage Law) so that civil partnership has an equivalent effect to marriage.
The principal issue in the appeal filed by Ms. Day and Ms. Bush was whether the Bill of Rights provides a right for them to marry.
In its ruling given on March 14, 2022, the Privy Council said that the Court of Appeal was correct in its approach to the interpretation of the Bill of Rights as the right to marriage is confined to opposite-sex couples.
The Privy Council ruling states that the European Convention on Human Rights, which is applicable in relation to the Cayman Islands and which forms part of the background against the appeal, does not include a right for same-sex couples to marry.
According to the ruling, The right to marry in section 14(1) of the Bill of Rights has been drafted in highly specific terms to make it clear that it is a right “freely to marry a person of the opposite sex…”
“The Privy Council has done nothing more, by its decision, than reassert the oppressive political environment of yesteryear,” Billie Bryan, founder, and president of Colours Cayman told AP.
On Monday, the Privy Council also ruled that same-sex marriage was not legal in Bermuda after the government appealed at court's decision which ruled same-sex marriage was legal.
In May 2017, Bermuda's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal; however, the party that won the general elections months later rejected that ruling and allowed only domestic partnerships.