Leader hits out at HRC

| 13/02/2009

(CNS): The Leader of Government Business has criticised the Human Rights Committee over its rejection of Section 16 in the Bill of Rights within the new constitution and accused its members of attempting to derail the final approval. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly following the arrival of the agreed constitution from London, Kurt Tibbetts said that he was disappointed with the position the HRC has taken and asked them not to destroy the consensus that has taken years to achieve.

 

However, the HRC has not said it in intends to campaign against the entire constitution but is asking government to give voters a choice. They would like to see the referendum ask if people would like Section 16 to be a free standing right to apply across everyday life, as was originally intended, or one confined only to the bill itself.

LoGB said in the LA that the HRC is undermining a deal which was a long time in coming, and given Cayman’s current lack of human rights, the compromise reached over the Bill of Rights has created a way to enable the UK’s obligations to be met and satisfy the church while ensuring the first step on the road to a human rights culture for the islands.

Tibbetts reminded the HRC that the most controversial aspect of the entire constitutional modernization exercise has been the content of the Bill of Rights. “The struggle has always been to draft a Bill of Rights which would satisfy the UK that it met all its international obligations under the various conventions and treaties to which it is a signatory, while at the same time respecting Caymanian sensitivities, moral standards and values.  It has taken eight years, but we have done so,” he added.

The LoGB said that representatives from virtually all churches in the Cayman Islands were on board with the newly revised bill, which had been no mean feat.  “It has taken tremendous perseverance, forbearance, creativity, intellect and a willingness to compromise on the part of all concerned,” Tibbetts noted, adding that it was disappointing that despite the involvement of the Human Rights Committee in every step of the process, including their attendance and contribution at all three rounds of the Constitutional Talks with the United Kingdom, they are determined to campaign against the draft Bill of Rights on the basis that it does not go far enough.

The HRC has said that Section 16 of the Bill of Rights is unacceptable as the compromise position adopted at the end of the second round of talks to accommodate the churches’ desire to discriminate against homosexuals had created a non-discrimination section which is limited to application only within the Bill of Rights. The HRC explained that the original Section 16 of the draft Bill of Rights stated that the government should not discriminate against anyone at any time.

“The right to equality was originally included as a ‘free-standing’ right and applied in all areas of daily life, including healthcare, housing and employment. This meant that it could not be restricted and made to apply only to certain rights and not to others,” the committee said, explaining that by restricting its application to the bill Caymanians would not be protected from discrimination in many areas.

However, the Leader of Government Business said that all parties made concessions in order to reach agreement on a document that everyone could support.  “The government has not achieved everything it pushed for, neither has the Opposition, the Chamber of  Commerce, the Cayman Ministers Association, the Conference of Seventh Day Adventists or, indeed, the Human Rights Committee.  I believe it is fair to say that in some instances even the UK gave more than it would have preferred.  But that is the way negotiations work,” he added.

Tibbetts said it was wrong for the HRC to now attempt to derail the final approval of the new constitution because they have not succeeded in obtaining all they pushed for.  He accused the HRC of saying that if it cannot have the Bill of Rights it wants, it is better to have none at all. 

“Cayman presently has no constitutional provision for human rights.  Whatever its perceived shortcomings by the HRC, the present draft bill significantly advances human rights protection in this jurisdiction and, importantly, it has the support of both the Cayman delegation and the United Kingdom Government,” Tibbetts added. “I say to the HRC, half a loaf is better than no bread at all.  Let’s hasten slowly.  Do not attempt to destroy the national consensus which has taken 8 years and millions of the country’s money to achieve.”

The committee is however not campaigning against the entire bill of rights but is now starting a petition to get generate support to persuade government to give voters a choice in the referendum in May. The committee has proposed simply asking the voters if they would like to see the referendum offer a choice and ask if people would like Section 16 as a free standing right to apply across everyday life or one confined only to the bill itself.

Moreover, the committee has also noted that while compromise on political issues is to be expected, compromise on fundamental rights is very difficult. “At the heart of every valuable constitution or bill of rights throughout history, there has been the principle that all persons are equal and entitled to equal treatment before the law. The draft Cayman Constitution has abandoned that idea,” the committee said this week.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Let me try again to respond to you, since CNS didn’t post my reply, i’ll try a different one in hopes they will post this one.  I most certainly do have issues and most certainly am venting them in this topic just like everyone else that vents their say in the topic.  I am no different. 

    My issues are that no Pastors should be sitting at the draft table for the Bill of Rights, because in their own churches they do not care about the people’s voice and say.  If they cared, then i would be happy to see them sit at the draft table for the country. 

    Now they have been exposed for what they are truly doing behind the closed doors of the churches.  They have been exposed as to how belittling they treat people as though the people are dumb and stupid and their vocal input is not valuable.  Of course their financial input is always deemed as very valuable, no problem with that!  That is a dictatorship when the people have no say.  If they want to do that in their churches, then they will stand before God for that one day.  Stay out of the Government with that Dictatorship spirit!  This is a Democracy!

    They do not obey what the Bible instructs as to how to run a church orderly.  The congregation are to be using and partaking in their spiritual gifts that God has given them for the edifying and building up of the Church under the Headship of the Apostles and the Prophets.

    I am not making this stuff up, this is what is written in the Holy Bible which is what Pastors claim that they obey the Holy Bible!  No they do not obey the Holy  Bible!  It is clear to see and prove in black and white in the Bible!  Look at how much disrespect and disobedience they have to God as so called Leaders of God’s People, yet they blatantly disobey God’s rules of how to run the church!  They might as well tear out the pages that all these rules are written in the Bible.

    A famous verse of scripture from the Bible you can always depend on most of them to quote for the congregation is to tythe 10% of all their earnings. And to give offerings on top of that 10%.  They promise the congregation that they will get rich by givingto God, yet many years go by and many in the congregation are still financially poor or struggling to barely get by.  Then they blame the members and tell them it is because of their lack of faith why they are poor and struggling!  Then the members who are poor and struggling feel like they are stupid and failures.  How cruel a mentality is that while the Pastor is living nicely off their tythes and offerings?  It is so cruel!  It is mental abuse! They only choose the verses of Scripture out of the Bible that they want to choose and then they leave out the rest that would interfere with their power over the church.

    This is not a mentality you want to be a part of the Government.

    We need better help for the People than this cruel mentality.

    Jesus came with love, healing, kindness, compassion, mercy, grace, truth, righteousness, justice, peace, joy, etc for people.  It is the religious leaders and high priests of God’s Temple of those days that hated Jesus and created a rebellion against him to have him crucified.  Even the pagan Roman Governor could not understand why the religious leaders and high priests of Israel hated Jesus so much, he was in shock and disbelief?  He could find no wrong with what Jesus did and stood for?  And he wasn’t a believer in God of the Bible.  Yet he saw that Jesus was pure and good and did nothing wrong to anyone.  He couldn’t see any reason why to condemn Jesus to crucifiction on the Cross?   He was baffled???  And the leaders and high priests of the Temple shouted louder and louder, "Crucify him!"

    We need truthful Leaders to rule we the People of the Cayman Islands.  Leaders who have no agenda at all other than to see the people healthy and happy!   Motives, Motives, Motives!  What is a person’s motives?  That is what is so critical to understand and try to figure out.  People can talk so diplomatically, eloquently, smooth sounding, but yet they could be lying to you, decieving you and being absolutely false and hypocritical.  Anyone can say anything to make themself look good.  That doesn’t mean what they’re saying is true?  Words mean nothing if the actions doesn’t prove the words.  If someone tells you they care about you, but then treat you as though your voice and say and input in anything is not valuable and not needed, then they really don’t care about you.  Truth is Truth.  Falsehood and Hypocrisy is Falsehood and Hypocrisy.  Deception.

    What is a person’s motive to rule over the People?

    Like the Bible says, you reap what you sow.  If you sow corruption, you shalt surly reap corruption.  The Bible says "the heart is wicked and who can know it".  We have to try to weed out as much corruption from evil hidden motives of leaders as much as possible by not voting them in.  Be very thoughtful and careful of who you vote for. 

    These Pastors sitting at the drafting table of the Bill of Rights for this Country were not voted in by the People of the Cayman Islands.  If they were respecting the people in their own churches then i would have no problem with them being at the drafting table.  But as everything i have already mentioned on that, NO, THEY DO NOT DESERVE TO SIT AT THE DRAFTING TABLE OF THE GOVERNMENT!   

    We need leaders who truthfully really care about people, and not their own selfish agendas of mammon (money), ego worship, or only care about an elite section of the People. We need leaders who care about everyone just the same no matter what or who or who they are.

    I could write so much more truth from the Bible to show anyone how out of order the church leadership is, as I am a Christian and study my Bible from front to back and know the truth, but hopefully i’ve been able to show some of it that would really make you understand the dictatorship going on in the churches, so as to not let it infiltrate the Government also.  Enough is Enough!

    I’m sure some of the church leaders are angry at me right about now, but it’s only just begun is all i have to say.  We’ve only just begun. I’m sure you’ll meet me one day and know who i am and you’ll be surprised.  Repent and make straight the crooked way!  Then you will have nothing to hide or fear of being exposed.  Once you confess and repent, then i as a fellow Christian have to forgive you also.  Confess your sins and repent of them.  Isn’t that what the Bible teaches and isn’t that what you the church leaders teach your congregation.  But do you practice what you preach???  Do you confess to the church when you sin?  Remember you are in leadership positions, it is critical for you the leadership to confess openly of your sins to your congregation.  How open and transparent are the leaders of their sins? 

  2. Anonymous says:

    To the last post about mischeivous, here is my reply to you.

    Did i not mention the elite chosen crew at the top of leadership as stated in a copy below.  Obviously you are one of the elite chosen crew. 

    Or do they go about this in secret with just an elite chosen crew at the top of leadership thereby keeping their Congregation blind and in the dark concerning all of the financial matters of their Church?

    Since you speak so commanding that you are transparent and accountable and upfront to your congregation informing them of every dollar that comes in to your church, and that you give your congregations votes on how to spend it, since you have nothing to hide, then state the name of your Church so we can all come and attend such a truthful church as you have claimed it to be with no hidden motives, no hidden agendas, no ego trips, and equality and justice for all members of the church no matter their positions.  How about that?  Tell us which Church this is?

    And furthermore, Pastors manipulate and control their congregations with words so that their congregations are afraid of them.  They pick out what they want to from the Bible and leave out the rest.  They keep you afraid of them as though you can only be saved through them.

    Furthermore Mr. Christian, The Bible says the Churches must be headed by the Apostles and Prophets!  Not the Pastors!  That the Apostles and Prophets are head over the Pastors and all the Church.  Where are the Apostles and Prophets? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly you have issues and have decided to misuse this topic to vent them. I suggest you seek counselling.

  3. noname says:

    Let me ask this question:

    Are the Pastors involved in being at the table to draw up this Constitution Bill Of Rights accountable to their own Congregations in these ways:

     

    Do they inform the Congregation of how much money they collect in donations?

    Do they give the Congregation voting rights to vote on how to spend the donated money?

    Or do they go about this in secret with just an elite chosen crew at the top of leadership thereby keeping their Congregation blind and in the dark concerning all of the financial matters of their Church?

    Does their Congregations have rights in their Churches to be informed of all the income into the Church and vote on how it will be spent?

    Do these Pastors have transparent accountability to their Congregations for every dollar that comes in and goes out?

    If these Pastors have no transparent accountability and rights for the Congregation to know about ALL (not part)of the income that comes in and goes out, and for the Congregation to vote how it should be spent, then how could these Pastors be allowed to sit at a Government table to draw up a Bill Of Rights for a Country if they are being secretive to their own Congregations about their church income and expenditure, giving their people no rights or say or knowledge of the financial matters of their Church?  After all, the Congregation are the ones putting the majority of the financial donations into the church.

    Why does the heads at this table have to be so secret about the drawing up this Bill of Rights?  Why is it a problem for the Public to be informed and to vote on issues regarding this Constitution being that this Country is a Democracy and not Communism or Dictatorship?

    Are Church Congregations who supply their Churches with most of the finances under a Dictatorship rule by their Church Leadership?    hmmm….something to really thinkabout?

    If these Pastors do not have 100% full accountability to their own Congregations on all the finances that come in and go out of their Churches, and don’t give their Congregations the right to vote on how to spend finances, then i say that these Pastors should not be sitting at the Government table drawing up the Bill of Rights for the Country’s People.  Because then no wonder they would encourage secrecy and no voting rights to the People if that’s what they do in their own Churches. 

    Cayman is a Democracy.

    Not a Dictatorship.

    By the way, I am a Christian, a proud Christian, a True Christian, Born-again in the Lord Jesus Christ, I Love Jesus with all my heart, He is my All in All.  He is my Lord, my Saviour, My King and my Redeemer and He Lives!  And He’s coming Soon!

    And Jesus is the only One who can Save us, no Pastor or any other human being can Save another human being from Eternal Condemnation.  Only the Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ can Save anyone.  Pastors are workers for the Kingdom of God along with Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, etc.  Pastors are not the Saviour.  There is only One Saviour – The Lord Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, it says in the Bible that Apostles and Prophets are to be head over the Pastors and everyone in the Church.  Where are the voices of the Apostles and Prophets?  Where are the Apostles and Prophets?

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      There is something very mischievous about that last post since although he says that he is a born-again Christian the only purpose  appears to be to bring churches into contempt and disrepute. The only contribution he makes to the issue of constitutional reform is to suggest that the pastors control the churches purse strings and are not accountable for its finances. Having been a church elder myself in a large denomination, I have found that church and many others to be very accountable with congregational business meetings to discuss and approve the church’s budget. Every penny received is carefully recorded according denomination ($1, $5, etc.). The pastor never gets anywhere near the funds and is certainly not in control of its expenditure. 

      Shame on you, whoever you are. Double shame on you, if you are really a Christian.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If we wish to determine whether the majority of Caymanians want the HRC change or not, all we have to do is give the HRC what it has requested which is simply the opportunity to vote on this particular issue. If the "people" say no to the HRC proposed change, then thats that.

    The issue is that there are some who fear that there may be a majority of persons who vote FOR the HRC proposal. In other words, despite the claim by the politicians and others (an clasim which as far as I am aware is not backed by any significant local research) , it may well be the case that this country "has moved on" further than what some of us would like to believe. This is a risk that some persons do not wish to take.  But is it right that we should deny the people the opportunity to vote yes or no because we fear the result?

    The HRC wants to move forward as well. All it is asking for is to include a vote on this fundamental issue. If you believe that the country will say no anyway, then the vote option is simply nothing to fear.  This is not rocket science. Lets let our confidence that ‘this is or is not what Cayman wants" speak for itself on May 20th.

  5. Anonymous says:

    "What a lot of hot air" Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/16/2009 – 11:29.

    Your argument is silly and baseless. Apparently, your declaration that we ARE a decent civilised society is final, is it? My opinion to the contrary is also declared to be "hot air" and purely a matter of "perspective" then! Hypocrisy knows no bounds in that vast wilderness that is your "mind". 

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    Homophobia at it’s best, it is amazing that the simple fear of the ‘battyman’  could cause such a stir and prevent the Government, Opposition and Churches from doing what even they in their hearts know is the right thing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “The present Planning Law requires every new building or redevelopment to have disabled access. Please get your facts straight.”
    And what about all the existing buildings in Cayman?? Should disabled people just not be able to get access to any of those? Including Planning itself!

  8. Anonymous says:

    "No. We have a decent, civilized society. This will ultimately destroy the fabric of our society.  Instead, there is an attack upon decency in the name of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’."

    No decent, civilised society incarcerates its children, little girls as young as 13 years old, in an adult prison, without legal advice and no rehabilitation services. What 13 year old child could defend herself in court proceedings against a professionally trained prosecutor for the Government?

    Incest and sexual abuse of children is rampant in Cayman. Yet the Government has left the Childrens Law (includes mandatory reporting of abuse) on the shelf for years, collecting dust.

    No decent, civilised society neglects the needs of its elderly and disabled: the Pines, Maple House. There is not even a Disability Law requiring wheelchair ramps or disabled access to buildings!

    No decent, civilied society consistently ignores the needs of its mentally ill Caymanians. Successive governments have failed to develop desperately-needed mental health facilities or juvenile detention facillities.

    No decent, civilised society would deny its own people basic human rights, like a right of education.

    No decent, civilised society would even consider allowing its Government to discriminate in the provision of healthcare services, employment, housing.  Perhaps 911 will declne to send an ambulance for you because you are black or you wrote a critical letter about the Government in the newspaper: on your rationale we are supposed to just keep relying and hoping the government of the day does "the decent thing".

    I am sorry, but that is not sufficient for me, my child (who is black) or anyone else that I care about. I want a constitutional right, that cannot be taken away, to ensure that I am protected from abuse and discrimination from government.

    If you do not, that is fine. You can vote for the limited right, then. No problem for you. However, I would like to also share my view – by voting for a full right of equality.  Therefore, I support this petition.

    • Anonymous says:

      The present Planning Law requires every new building or redevelopment to have disabled access. Please get your facts straight.

      WIth zero constitutional rights at present, does any of these discriminations occur now? Does Govt. refuse healthcare, housing, etc.? Does 911 not sent the service required because of colour, race, critical letters, etc.?

      If these do not happen now why do people think that they will happen when the constitution changes?

    • Anonymous says:

      What a lot of hot air!. This is simply your idea of what a decent, civilised society (or rather an ideal society) is supposed to be.  It is not shared by the majority of Caymanians. Any society may be criticised on any number of bases, depending on your perspective. That does not make it uncivilised or indecent.  No one is in practice being denied a right to education which is supposed to be an "aspirational" right in any event, not a basic human right as you assert. If you would focus upon the implications of these rights then you would come down off your high horse.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t the HRC’s position on this  the one that would be expected in a decent,  civilized society? There is nothing "shrill" at all about saying that,  if we are going to have a proper constitutional referendum on a bill of rights in a true democracy, we would allow people to vote for a right to full equality if they wish to do so. Dictatorship is when the government tells you what you are going to get. Democracy is when the government allows you to vote for what you want. Isn’t it rather "hysterical" to be so afraid of giving rights to gays and lesbians that we are not prepared to give rights to anyone else either? Is it right that the government could really say that we can all only have "half" because they can’t give gays and lesbians the "whole" right? That kind of hysterical, irrational fear of "others" has distorted and destroyed societies throughout history. I don’t think there is any reason to fear a proper referendum. The government’s position seems to be that they want the majority to decide this. If they give the people a proper choice, they will be able to see what the majority want. If they have guessed correctly, then their document will stand.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Isn’t the HRC’s position on this  the one that would be expected in a decent, civilized society?".

      No. We have a decent, civilized society. This will ultimately destroy the fabric of our society.  Instead, there is an attack upon decency in the name of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’. Moral decadence is what has destroyed societies. There are so many rights that there are no longer any wrongs. 

      There is no dictatorship here. You get to choose but the choices cannot be about distinctions most people will not understand which can only give room for mischief. This was the problem with the originalreferendum plan.  

      The HRC has started the myth that the Bill doesn’t "give rights to anyone else either". It is now being perpetuated by the extreme left.

       

  10. Sara Collins says:

    I have been asked for an explanation by one of the posters, so I will attempt to give one. The steps were as follows:

    1. We started with a full right in the draft. The effect was that the Government could not discriminate against anyone at any time. “Anyone” included women, children, the elderly etc. There was some debate about whether it should include gays and lesbians.

    2. The Government decided that the population would only accept the inclusion of gays and lesbians if the right was not as strong. So, they agreed to include gays and lesbians only if the right not to be discriminated against was itself weakened so that there was only a limited number of ares where the Government could not discriminate. Reducing or changing the right means there are some areas where the Government can discriminate and the Constitution does not prevent it from doing so.

    3. That is why the HRC says we all suffer, including women, children and everyone else who had the protection of the full right and now is only being offered the “half” right. The dilution of the right means less protection for women, children, the disabled and the elderly. CNS seems to have reported our position pretty accurately in that regard.

    • Sara Collins says:

       Just to clarify the typo at number 2: "…they agreed to include gays and lesbians only if the right…was itself weakened so that there would be only a limited number of areas where the Government could not discriminate"

  11. anonymous says:

     I just have a simple question!

     

    Why don’t government and church leaders want a bill of rights that forbids racial and religious discrimination across all of Cayman society (both gov. and private sector)? How can they be against that? It’s so basic. 

     

    How can they push a constitution on the people that doesn’t even include that in it? 

     

    I sincerely don’t understand. Please explain. 
     

    • Anonymous says:

      Re Simple question,

      If you read thru the posts on this topic you will see the concerns clearly expressed.   

       

  12. Anonymous says:

    Shame on you LOGB…HRC is expressing our views and should be treated with respect. YOU said this is our constitution…Do not try to intimidate groups for views that are dissenting. I will not be voting for this based on principle. Do not try to chastise or intimidate people or railroad this through by now focusing wrath on HRC because it doesn’t fit wth your agendai or desires. From the very first day at Pedro Castle, when flags, free t shirts, pens, food,etc were passed out, I knew we were off to a bad start. I think that at heart you are not a bad person, but you are very misguided on this. i think that spouses should be protected in the constitution, since so much is being made of the sanctity of marraige…If the vows are broken, perhaps we should have recourse, then?

  13. Anonymous says:

    An interesting point that has been spoken by both political parties at different times that ,"the people of the Cayman Islands are not ready for this development". It was spoken by the UDP in reference to the "One Man – One Vote" ammendment to the constitution. Now the LoGB has spoken of the people of the Cayman Islands not being ready to accept nondiscrimination.

    Are each observations true? I don’t know but theyprofess an asture awareness of the Caymanian mindset.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I hear the HRC concerns and agree, but am anxious to secure the much needed constitutional reforms.  But if we dont get it right, it is going to be a hell to correct it.  It took the government 8 years to get these changes, so it will probably take as long or more to "amend" any mistakes we make in this document.

    I think we need more time, to do this carefully and properly. Otherwise, this will be the end of us!! 

  15. Anonymous says:

    The whole problem here is the process taken by PPM for constitution reform.

    They did not take the views of the public.  They assumed that the churches represented the majority and put together a document with the churches over their shoulder, threatening them with votes!  They even went ahead and agreed it with FCO saying it represented the view of the cayman people. 

    This was a big gamble for PPM and they tied it to the election to maximise the church vote.  "come out for us in the election and we will give you whatever changes you want in the bill of rights"

    But the risk they took is that the information they got from the churches is NOT the views of the majority of us.  But now we do not get any opportunity to discuss any changes because the referendum will be " yes / no " – so it is all or nothing choice.

    But if one particular part bothers somebody enough, the voters will probably vote ‘No’ even if they agree with the rest.

    Remember that PPM were first going to do a referendum to get the public’s views and THEN go to england.  But after UDP started ‘scare mongering’ about independence – PPM changed tactics, drafted the document with the churches and are now shoving it down our throats with a all or nothing vote!

    That was a big gamble unna took Kurt, taking just the churches’ interests.  And you will all pay the price on May 20!  

     

    • Anonymous says:

      "The whole problem here is the process taken by PPM for constitution reform.

      They did not take the views of the public.  They assumed that the churches represented the majority and put together a document with the churches over their shoulder, threatening them with votes!  They even went ahead and agreed it with FCO saying it represented the view of the cayman people." 

      This is simply false. The Government formed a constitutional secretariat and had numerous meetings throughout the districts and for any organisation which asked both to inform the public about the issues and to obtain the views of the public. The public showed little interest but in so so far as views were expressed they were taken into account. The UDP also had a process whereby they sought to obtain the views of the public. However, in respect of the Bill of Rights it was the churches who showed the greatest interest and level of participation. You therefore have no basis and no right to state that no one asked the public for their views. 

      The political reality is that without the support of the churches the requisite majority required to approved the Constitution will not be obtained because those views are held strongly and they will vote.   If you don’t like the document then simply vote against it but please don’t falsify the record.  

  16. Sara Collins says:

    In response to the last poster, I find myself forced to clarify again. This is not about the right toeducation. That has already been included in the draft as an obligation on the Government to do only what it can afford. The HRC does not seek to overturn that issue because it has already compromised on it. The matter in issue is the right not to be discriminated against. That is so fundamental that it is worth some public discussion and the exercise of our own free will before a decision is made on it. Should that right not to be discriminated against apply only when the Government is doing certain things to you or should it apply in relation to everything the Government does to, with or for you? Should we have the obligation not to discriminate against each other? I am surprised and encouraged to see that many posters here and elsewhere also think that we should include our obligations to each other as part of the debate. As an example of how the obligation between private citizens would work, ask yourselves some questions: Would it be acceptable for an employer not to hire a Seventh Day Adventist if they refused to work on their sacred day, which is Saturday? Would it be acceptable for a landlord to refuse to rent to Jews? At the moment, the Constitution is silent about those things. It is fundamentally important for us to get the balance right.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sara,

      Let’s not bother with the easy questions. Let’s ask some difficult ones. Do you believe that a church should, on the basis of this right not to be discriminated against, be forced to hire someone whose lifestyle etc. (e.g. the practising homosexual) is incompatible with the teachings of that church?  What if he is a hindu who is an excellent guitarist and singer applying for the job of church musician? What if I am renting my apartments and a man who practises obeah wants to rent it and I decline? Can you really not see that these things would (and should) be unacceptable to a committed Christian? It is incredible that you can not see that a small society as ours would soon be ripped apart. These things mean nothing to a wordly person who does not take a spiritual perspective but regards religion as some anachronistic curiosity for the simple-minded.  The Human Rights agenda is itself a secular humanist philosophy and culture which is being foisted on others as progressive in yet another act of cultural imperialism.   

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think that the posters trumpeting the HRC’s platform need to sit with them and ask what the inclusion of such rights would translate to for the Government and the citizens.

    For example, the "right" to education. Could that translate into Government being obligated to provide schooling to every resident child on the country? If so, would that be for free? If for free, how much taxation would it take to do this? How much does that translate to for every resident? Are you ready to pay this much?

    Please think through the result of every request before jumping on the bandwagon thinking that ‘someone’ is keeping something from you. Let’s get more than we have now and then move forward as we understand and appreciate these rights more.

    In my opinion, the Government has brought us a golden opportunity to advance our country. Let’s not waste it.

  18. Sara Collins says:

    On behalf of the HRC, I would like to clarify that we are not  saying that the elderly, disabled or children are left out of rights that everyone is enjoying. In the current draft of the constitution, everyone gets the same watered down right. What we are saying is that everyone, including those vulnerable groups, loses the benefit of the aspects of the right that have been taken out. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand our position. Everyone is treated equally in the draft, for what that is worth. Our point is that we could have been treated much, much better. In his statement before the Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Leader acknowledged that something valuable was lost in the re-drafting  of section 16, because he is asking us to accept "half a loaf" for now, with the promise of full equality on a distant horizon. I believe the people of the Cayman Islands are in fact hungry for the whole loaf. I also believe that the Honourable Leader loves this country and that, if we tell him loudly and clearly enough that we are hungry for the whole loaf, he will not ask us to settle for half of it. I know that we all love our country and I am confident that, ultimately, the true spirit of democracy and freedom will prevail. I hope that clears things up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sara,

      I am glad to see that the tone has changed. It was beginning to sound a little shrill. But please note: 

      1. You are seeking people (mostly non-lawyers) to vote on fine distinctions in a constitutional document that they are frankly not equipped to fully appreciate. That was the problem with original referendum plan.

      2. Why seek to foist upon a people something for which they are not prepared and which will radically change their way of life (and not for the better)? If it was passed as the HRC desires it would end badly, I promise you.  

      The metaphor of "bread" was unfortunate as it does suggest that we are missing outon something valuable. The reality is that what the HRC sees as "bread" most Caymanians (who are moderate right) see as "poison" or will do so once it moves from the realm of ideas to the world of reality and they understand the full implications.  Theyare not hungry for it but are practically gagging.  

        

    • Anonymous says:

      "On behalf of the HRC, I would like to clarify that we are not  saying that the elderly, disabled or children are left out of rights that everyone is enjoying. In the current draft of the constitution, everyone gets the same watered down right.

      Sara, it really would have been difficult to understand the following CNS report in any other way. Did they misrepresent the HRC? Why bring up these groups at all if they have not been unfavourably treated? Unlike "sexual orientation" sex (gender), age and disability were specifically included in Section 16. Why confuse the issue by mentioning them in the same breath? Wasn’t it this that was supposed to have made the changes "morally repugnant"? 

      "Following the final round of constitutional talks, the committee said that the compromised bill of rights, which came out of the second round of talks, does not guarantee equality for all. The desire to prevent equality to gay and lesbian people has also placed many other groups,  such as the disabled, women and children, at risk, said the HRC".

  19. anonymous says:

    Amazing Kurt Tibbetts quote 

     

    Cayman Net News

    MONDAY 30 JANUARY 2006

    Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts:

    The Government confirms its support of a Bill of Rights being enshrined in our country’s proposed new constitution and notes that the formal adoption of such a Bill will make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of, inter alia, race, age, religion or sexual orientation.”


    The Leader of Government Business said the wishes of the Caymanian people had to be respected but it had an equally important responsibility to make difficult decisions.” 
     
     
     
    Wow! What happened between then and now? Who changed Mr. Tibbett’s mind and why? What happened to the "important responsibility to make difficult decisions"? 
     
    Mr. Tibbetts is a good man. He needs to do what he knows in his heart is right. If he finds the courage, he just might be surprised by how many Caymanians will follow him. Love wins over hate every now and then, you know.
     
    Mr. Tibbetts, junk this watered-down embarrassment of a draft. Put together a constitution that reflects the best of Cayman, not the worst. Say ‘no’ to mean-spirited and fearful people.
     
    Lead!
     
     

  20. WSF says:

    What is the Government so afraid of?  That the Caymanian people might actually prove them wrong and might actually be ready for more than their diluted version of a constitution?  The very fact that they would insinuate that the people of the Cayman Islands are somehow incapable of knowing what they want and that they (the Government) need to take a leadership role in making these monumental decisions for us is, frankly, insulting.  How dare they!!  DO YOU THINK WE ARE THAT STUPID?

    Change comes only when we are willing to fight for it.  No Government has ever, in all of history, just handed its people anything of real value without the people first making their wishes known.  If the Caymanian people sit back complacently and let the constitution as it is written now go through, I guarantee that at some point they will live to regret it. 

    Speak up, my fellow Caymanians…..LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!

  21. Anonymous says:

     Dear "Whats the problem?" – I hope this will be helpful with your question:                                                          

                                                               MONDAY 30 JANUARY 2006

    Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts, last Thursday issued the Government’s response in a press statement, which reconfirmed a 2001 policy based on human rights:  In response to the scheduled visit [of gay cruise], the Government has reconfirmed the policy of non-discrimination first established by the Cayman Islands Government in 2001 and regards it as consistent with this jurisdiction’s recognition of human rights.”

    In the statement, Mr Tibbetts said the policy is also part of the Bill of Rights in the country’s proposed new constitution. 
    The Government confirms its support of a Bill of Rights being enshrined in our country’s proposed new constitution and notes that the formal adoption of such a Bill will make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of, inter alia, race, age, religion or sexual orientation.”
    The Leader of Government Business said the wishes of the Caymanian people had to be respected but it had an equally important responsibility to make difficult decisions.” 
     
    WEDNESDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2009
    Madam Speaker…We, as the representatives of the people, have done our duty and have delivered.   …
    However, we recognized from the very outset that if constitutional modernization was to be .. successful, it had to secure the widest possible support from the population.
    The most controversial aspect of this entire constitutional modernization exercise has been the content of the Bill of Rights. The UK has mandated that a Bill of Rights must form part of any new constitution.. The struggle has always been to draft a Bill of Rights which would satisfy the UK that it met all its international obligations under the various conventions and treaties to which it is a signatory, while at the same time respecting Caymanian sensitivities, moral standards and values.
    Madam Speaker, successful negotiations are characterized by spirit of compromise. That has been especially true of these recently concluded constitutional talks. All parties made concessions in order to reach agreement on a document that everyone could support. The Government has not achieved everything it pushed for, neither has the Opposition, the Chamber of Commerce, the Cayman Ministers Association, the Conference of Seventh day Adventists or, indeed, the Human Rights Committee. But that is the way negotiations work.
    I say to the HRC, half a loaf is better than no bread at all.
  22. anonymous says:

    While I support the efforts of the Human Rights Committee and I really do sympathize with the long hard road Mr. Kurt Tibbetts and others have travelled with this constitution process, I have to ask: Would it be too much trouble to give the people a third option on the referendum?

    Can the people vote for a strong and comprehensive Bill of Rights, one that actually applies to the entire country and not just government? 

    I might be completely wrong but I think it is likely that a very large number of Caymanians want and would vote for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights that covers both government and the private sector. Can we have the chance to do so?

    Having to choose between diluted rights or very diluted rights just doesn’t feel like the best we can do.

    Most of the people I know think mistreating people based on things like their personal religious beliefs or their skin color is wrong. Why can’t we have protection against that in the constitution and have it apply to everyone everywhere? 

    What’s the problem? 

     

     

     

     

  23. Anonymous says:

    To the poster who says there is no room for discrimination against the disabled and the elderly, I suggest you read the document very carefully. It is right that section 16 protects everybody, including the disabled and the elderly, but only from certain things not from everything.  If we want a right that protects everyone from discrimination in all areas not just the limited list that is in the current draft Constitution, then we need to ask for the ability to make that choice. The compromise put forward by the Government and the leaders of the CMA was that we will protect all people equally from some things but not from others. So it is not legitimate to discriminate in the right to family life, but it is legitimate to discriminate in relation to employment, healthcare and housing.  We had one version of section 16 in the draft all along andthen suddenly the government changed it. Ask them to explain the change. What does it mean? Does it mean certain things were left out? If so, why were they left out? If it doesn’t mean things were left out, it should be easy for them to put it back in. The HRC is saying that some people might want to put the things that were left out back in.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right of course that section 16 protects everybody, including the disabled and the elderly, from discrimination in respect of their rights under the Bill of Rights. My point was that it is disingenuous to suggest that the disabled, the elderly, children and women have been left out of rights that everyone else is enjoying. This simply an attempt to stir up the population emotionally.

      It is a completely separate point whether the Bill of Rights ought to contain additional rights.  We can have that discussion but I believe what we have is a good starting point. We have to be careful though. For example, if we define housing as a right, does it import an obligation for Government to provide housing? If it simply an aspirational right it is nice window dressing but how effective is it? 

      I understand the change to Section 16 was to make it not a stand alone right. Is there something I am missing?  

  24. anonymous says:

    What very few people seem to realise is that there has been so much compromise in the drafting of the constitution that even if the Human Rights Committee (HRC) is successful in getting the original version of section 16 back into the Bill of Rights, we will still only be protected from discrimination by the Government. Our protection from discrimination will not extend to the private sector.

    Because of "compromises" early in the Constitution discussions, it was decided by the Government that the right to non-dscrimination would not apply to private citizens.

    What this means is that individuals and private companies are free to discriminate against anyone when it comes to housing, healthcare and employment. So, if someone who owns an apartment chooses not to rent to you because you’re handicapped, or not to employ you because of your religious denomination, or a private doctor chooses not to treat you because of your skin color, there is nothing to stop them.

    It’s depressing but hope is not lost because even though the right to equality (section 16) only protects us from discrimination by the Government, if we can get it back into the Constitution, we would be able to compel Government to pass legisation that could also provide us protection in the private sector.

    Half a loaf of bread is not good enough when we know that the other half was thrown away.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The HRC is acting irresponsibly and this may well backfire so that there is no new Constitution containing a Bill of Rights at all. It is deliberately seeking to confuse the minds of the people that the rights of the elderly. children and disabled are not  protected when section 16 of the Bill clearly includes "age and mental or physical disability".  It is exhibiting the same tunnel vision of which they accuse the CMA and the SDA leaders. It is wrong to state that homosexuals are being denied human rights. They have the same rights as everyone else. What they do not have are special rights to trump everyone else’s rights as has happened in the U.K. where the Employment Tribunal fined the church for refusing to employ a practising homosexual man as a youth worker. The freedom of religion of the church does not matter in that case, only the rights of the homosexual man. See.  http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20080212/47000-fine-for-bishop-sued-by-homosexual-youth-worker/ . This is what the HRC desires for Cayman. Shame on you Sara Collins & Co.!  

  26. Anonymous says:

     What Kurt Tibbetts says about the HRC is disingenuous and misleading. And if he and all the other politicians weren’t so desperate to bend over backwards to pander to the churches (why do they have some special right to determine what everyone else’s rights should be?), he and they would be able to see that. Caymanians, our politicians have let us down and sold us out to the pastors and preachers, who are more (unhealthily?) concerned with stopping homosexuals than they are with making sure everyone has rights they are entitled to. The HRC should be congratulated, not criticised. At least there are some people willing to speak the truth and be honest. And I have heard that the proposed draft constitution also removes even more rights from Caymanians, like the right to be told you can remain silent if the police arrest you. Why has this been done, and why has it been done secretly? Who removed the right and why was there nothing about this in the reports back from London? We are being sold a bad deal here.

  27. Anonymous says:

    We also provide the following documents designed to help our overseas posts to promote human rights.- FCO website

    The following Q and A is from a FCO Document… 

     
    Q. Our culture and traditions do not accept homosexuality. 
     
    A. Customs and traditions are constantly changing with time, in the light of new knowledge and 
    understanding. This happens everywhere. Once women were treated as inferior to men in every 
    culture and tradition, but very few have that attitude nowadays. Culture and tradition cannot 
    justify denying people their human rights. 

     

    Q. Our laws are based on traditional beliefs and should continue to reflect these. 

    A. Governments should lead their people and not simply follow public opinion. For example, 
    many countries once tolerated female circumcision, but nowadays all governments are leading 
    their people to reject this – by making it illegal, by educating them and by publicity. International 
    human rights treaties provide for the equal treatment under the law of people who have different 
    characteristics – such as race, gender, ethnic origin, and so on. This includes sexual orientation. 
    So human rights provisions require that States work to end legal discrimination on the grounds 
    of sexual orientation.  

     

    Q. If we accept these changes, we will open the door to immorality. 

    A. Human rights do not depend on – and are not subject to – different interpretations of morality. 
    In any event, immorality is a changing concept. For example, slavery was once considered to be 
    morally acceptable and was lawful in most countries, including the UK. But nowadays all 
    countries regard slavery as totally immoral and have outlawed it.  

     

    Q. Our religion forbids homosexuality/bisexuality/ transgenderism, and our laws reflect our 
    religion. 
     
    A. Religions require their own adherents to do or refrain from specific things, but these 
    requirements do not apply to people of other faiths or of no faith. The law should guarantee the 
    same rights to everyone in the territory. Your State has committed itself to guarantee human 
    rights to everyone. If people of any religion choose not to exercise their rights, that is their 
    business. But if LGBT people– including those of your religion – wish to exercise their rights 
    they should be able to do so.  

     

     

    Q. Accepting this will undermine marriage, which is the cornerstone of our society. 
     
    A. Recognising the human rights of one group of people does nothing to undermine the human 
    rights of others. The right of people to marry will not be affected in any way, so it is difficult to 
    see how marriage can be undermined in such circumstances. No one should be pressurised 
    Anonymous says:

     From everything that has been said, the HRC is saying let the referendum go ahead but give the people their own choice. Is Kurt saying the people shouldn’t have a choice? If you listened to Talk Today and look at other posts on CNS it seems the people are crying out for a choice. Equality for all is the most important thing to get right. If the HRC is saying they will let the process go ahead, and abide by the outcome, but just want to give the people the chance to get the best outcome possible, it is madness to say that is derailing the process. I hope people will support the HRC and their petition to ask the Government to make their own choice in the referendum.