(CMR) Colours Caribbean has welcomed a bill tabled by Michael Cashman (Lord Cashman) in the House of Lords to make same-sex marriage legal in British Overseas Territories.
If passed, the Bill would empower local governors to make changes to the law necessary to legalize same-sex marriage. Provisions in the Bill would introduce equal civil marriage for same-sex and different-sex couples throughout the British Caribbean. It will also place the Caribbean British Overseas Territories in line with all countries in the Americas that are subject to the Inter-American Convention On Human Rights (IACHR), which requires equal marriage.
The Bill had its First Reading on 6 July 2022 and now awaits a date to be scheduled for its next stage in the House of Lords.
Lord Cashman said: “This Bill has one single purpose, and that is to bring about equality. Currently, same-sex couples can marry in the UK but are prohibited from marrying in six British Overseas Territories. This is wrong, and the UK Parliament can and should act to end this obvious inequity. I believe this Bill has wide support among all those who favor equality over discrimination and are committed to upholding fundamental human rights.”
The Bill extends to six British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Bermuda; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Montserrat; and Turks and Caicos Islands.
“It is with tremendous pride that we announce the introduction of this Bill. Colours Caribbean has been championing for marriage equality in the Cayman Islands for years now by engaging with local parliament, the Governor, the Premier, international governments, and press, via sociopolitical campaigns and also by various means of litigation, with Dr. Leonardo Raznovich assisting throughout this time, including with respect to the same-sex marriage case involving Ms. Chantelle Day and Ms. Vickie Bodden Bush in 2018,” Colours Caribbean said in a press release.
“While we did celebrate the victory of the Civil Partnership Act of 2020, as expected, it was not without considerable pushback from our own local parliament as well as select conservative groups who are still fighting its introduction in court by the Governor,” the organization added.
Colours Caribbean stated that “following the long-awaited and disappointing decision by the UK Privy Council to deny marriage equality to both the Cayman Islands as well as Bermuda—which clearly revealed a discriminatory system of constitutional segregation—it is pleasing to see the UK Parliament recognizing its responsibility in this regard and seeking to redress that through this bill by legislating same-sex marriage in all of the Caribbean British Overseas Territories.”
While Colours Caribbean is optimistic, Governor of the Cayman Islands H.E Martyn Roper said he has learned the Bill may not progress.
“I understand the Private Members' Bill introduced by Lord Michael Cashman in the UK's House of Lords on same-sex marriage in the Overseas Territories, including the Cayman Islands, has little chance of progressing. It is not a Government Bill and it is not yet clear if it will even be debated,” he said.
If this Bill succeeds, it will not face the threat of being reversed by local courts on the grounds of constitutional incompatibility as the governors of every applicable jurisdiction will be empowered and required by Act of the UK Parliament to “make provision for the solemnization of civil marriage of same-sex couples that is equivalent to the provision made for the solemnization of civil marriage of opposite-sex couples.”
“We look forward to the passing of the Bill. Marriage equality has officially come to the forefront of the agenda, and soon all British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean will enjoy the same rights with the same name, ending the anomaly of depriving us of the right to equality enjoyed by all British citizens in the entirety of the UK, the three crown dependencies and the rest of the British Overseas Territories,” Colours Caribbean stated.