Gay marriage trial in the Cayman Islands set for early next year

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Chantelle Day (left) and Vickie Bodden

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has ordered the civil action in the Cayman Islands brought by two women who were refused the opportunity to marry by the registrar to be heard in February 2019.

Smellie, who will be hearing the case, also confirmed Friday in a short case management hearing that, during the three-day trial next year, the human rights petition filed by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden on the basis of discrimination will be consolidated with the existing judicial review application.

There has been no indication from the attorney general’s representative, Reshma Sharma, of the grounds on which government plans to fight the same-sex couple’s aim to marry.

Despite comments from both the previous governors, Helen Kilpatrick and Anwar Choudhury, as well as those from the current acting governor, Franz Manderson, that the Cayman Islands government will need to pave the way for some form of same-sex unions because of the issue of discrimination, the government still apparently intends to use public money to fight the case.

Speaking in March, Manderson said this was an issue that was not going to go away and something that government would need to address “fairly quickly”.

He added, “We are going to have to turn our minds to it and make some hard decisions.”

Nevertheless, the issue had remained on the backburner and, despite clear indications from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that there will need to be some kind of equitable arrangement introduced to enable same-sex couples to have some form of legal union, the recent fallout with the UK over the beneficial ownership issue and the problems of Brexit have diverted the FCO’s attention from human rights issues.

Day, who is Caymanian, returned to her home this summer with her fiancée, Bodden, who is British, and their daughter. Although they could have legally married in the UK, they want to settle in Cayman and at present if they married, wherever that took place, it would remain unrecognised there because Day is Caymanian.

Day and Bodden are hoping that their action, which will be a landmark case, will pave the way for other members of the LGBTQ community to marry and achieve their right to a family life.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service

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