A man has been held by police in the Cayman Islands for kissing his boyfriend.
Aaron Chandler, a 23 year old American on holiday with his partner, was detained by an off duty police officer.
He was taken to a police station but not arrested and later released without charge.
Complaints about the couple kissing were reportedly made by fellow customers at the Royal Palms resort.
The couple deny that they behaved any differently from other straight guests.
“I do display affection when I’m with my boyfriend, publicly,” Mr. Chandler told local newspaper, The CayCompass.
“It’s never anything most people would consider obscene; usually it’s in the form of holding hands or a quick kiss.”
Mr Chandler was told by the off duty police officer to not kiss his partner in public.
The couple decided to ignore the instruction and when later in the evening they kissed again Mr Chandler was physically taken away from the nightclub where they were drinking with friends and detained at the local station.
Several fellow revellers followed Mr Chandler as he was led away from the bar, protesting at the officers’ actions.
Many were shocked at the arrest as the Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory.
Homosexual acts between consenting adults were decriminalised in Cayman by a UK Order in Council in December 2000.
There are laws in the Penal Code and the Towns and Communities Law that make the public displays of affection by two people of the same sex a crime, especially if it causes distress or disturbance to other members of the public.
Mr Chandler was told that although he was able to do what he liked in the privacy of his hotel room, it was not acceptable for two men to kiss each other in a public place.
He is a board member of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a Washington DC-based organisation that fights for the rights and well–being of LGBT youth.
In a letter to the Cayman Island tourist board Mr Chandler said:
“I thought his request was ridiculous and bigoted, and I didn’t really believe I was in danger of being arrested.
“I won’t allow myself to be forced into the closet simply because I’m in a place where some people may be more homophobic than in other places.”
The foreign relations of the Cayman Islands are largely managed from the United Kingdom, as the islands remain an overseas territory of the UK.
The Cayman Islands currently enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region, aided by thriving tourism and banking industries.
In 2006 there was uproar when a gay cruise stopped at the island.
Religious leaders protested and demanded that the cruise liner, filled with more then 16,000 gay men, went elsewhere.
The request was denied and the passengers were given a warm welcome by the majority of the locals.
Tourism accounts for 70-75% of the annual GDP of the Cayman Islands.
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