Apology for gay man detained for kissing boyfriend

PinkNews Staff Writer May 7, 2008
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The Director of Tourism on the Cayman Islands has apologised to an American visitor who was targeted and held by police for kissing his boyfriend in public.

Pilar Bush wrote to Aaron Chandler describing his treatment as an “isolated incident” and not representative of attitudes on the island.

“On behalf of the entire Department of Tourism, I apologise for your upsetting experience and want to assure you that the Cayman Islands is a welcoming jurisdiction to all people,” Ms Bush said.

“We know that thousands of gay and lesbian visitors travel to the Cayman Islands every year and enjoy their vacation.”

Mr Chandler said that the apology was appreciated but also made sense from a business point of view 70% of the nation’s GDP comes from tourism.

He has filed a complaint with the police about their behaviour last Wednesday.

The 23 year old American, on holiday with his partner, was detained by an off duty police officer and taken to a police station but not arrested. He was 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.

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.

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