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Cayman Islands appeals court blocks same-sex marriage legalisation

Sofia Lotto Persio April 11, 2019
Photo of couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush who are fighting for the right to get married in the Cayman Islands.

Same-sex couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush who filed the lawsuit that originally led to same-sex marriage being legalised in the Cayman Islands. (Twitter)

An appeals court in the Cayman Islands has delayed the implementation of same-sex marriage legalisation in the British Overseas Territory.

The Court of Appeal accepted a government request to halt the legalisation of same-sex marriage that Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands ruled with immediate effect in a historic ruling on March 29.

The government is appealing the ruling and demanded a stay on same-sex marriage legalisation, which the appeals court granted on Wednesday (April 10), the Cayman Compass reported.

“Chantelle and Vickie aren’t trailblazers. They’re just a couple who are in love and who know they want to spend the rest of their lives together. They don’t want to be in court fighting for their right to marry, a right which opposite-sex couples take for granted.”

— Jonathan Cooper

The March 29 ruling came less than a year after Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush applied for the right to be married in the Cayman Islands, but had their application rejected due to the fact that they are a same-sex couple.

They initially said that they’d be prepared to accept a civil partnership as long as their relationship could be recognised by law, but since their plea was rejected they were forced to litigate to have their relationship officially recognised.

The couple was due to become the first married same-sex couple in the Cayman Islands this week, but will instead have to wait at least until August, when the Court of Appeal will hear the government’s argument and decide whether the March 29 ruling should stand.

Cayman islands delay in legalising same-sex marriage labelled a ‘disgrace’

Jonathan Cooper, a barrister at Doughty Street law firm, who has advised the couple on their case, called the appeals court’s decision a “disgrace.”

“Chantelle and Vickie are at the heart of this story. The Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands has recognised their constitutional right to marry.

“Chantelle and Vickie aren’t trailblazers. They’re just a couple who are in love and who know they want to spend the rest of their lives together. They don’t want to be in court fighting for their right to marry, a right which opposite-sex couples take for granted.

Chantelle Day, Peter Laverack, and Vickie Bodden Bush stand outside the court in the Cayman Island that legalised same-sex marriage on March 29.
Chantelle Day, Peter Laverack, and Vickie Bodden Bush stand outside the court in the Cayman Island that legalised same-sex marriage on March 29. An appeals court has now blocked the implementation of that ruling to allow a government appeal against it. (Supplied)

“They just want the law to recognise their right to be together. Instead they are treated like pawns in a chess game,” Cooper said in a statement to PinkNews, adding: “They are being demeaned and shamed and it is a disgrace.”

The barrister renewed his call to the Foreign Office and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to take action in this case to ensure the couple can marry.

“Hunt needs to stand firm and ensure that Chantelle and Vickie’s ordeal is over. They want a Spring wedding. Is it too much for the Foreign Secretary to grant them that?”

In February, a report from the UK Parliament’s foreign affairs committee called on the government to extend equal marriage—which became legal in England and Wales in 2013 and Scotland in 2014—to British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Islands.

More: Americas, British Overseas Territory, cayman islands, Chantelle Day, foreign office, Jeremy Hunt, same-sex marriage debate

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