Disabled make claim to rights

| 20/02/2009

(CNS): As the Legislative Assembly prepares to debate the bill required to facilitate the referendum on Monday, the community is still debating the details of the constitution as campaigners began to raise their voice over the reduction of rights because of the perceived homophobia in the church leadership. At one of the largest ever public meetings on the constitution, for the first time members of Cayman’s disabled community, other activists and non-church groups spoke out loud and clear about their concerns over limited rights as the government made efforts to justify the limitation.

A meeting hosted by stakeholders of the constitutional talks at the Family Life Centre last night (Thursday 19 February) saw a turn out of over 400 people. Once again the discussion was dominated entirely by rights. However, this time the community heard from a number of people with disabilities, including Keisha Martin who has been completely blind for 22 years, who spoke of the incredible discrimination she suffered when she brought a seeing-eye dog to Cayman but was eventually forced to return it.

Parents of disabled children spoke out about their concerns for the future because of the limitation placed on everyone’s rights as a result of the changes to Section 16. Others with disabilities articulated the woeful lack of legislation to protect them and their desire to see their rights constitutionalized because of the persistent failure of politicians to enact necessary disability laws. A number of people rasied their concerns that homophobia was the root of the problema nd that to sacrifice the rights of the disabled for that was disgraceful.

Sara Collins, Chair of the Human Rights Committee, confirmed that the fundamental reason why all the people of the Cayman Islands were now facing “half a loaf” regarding their rights was because of the church’s position on gays and lesbians and the desire to ensure that particular group of people could still be discriminated against. “How much are we willing to sacrifice just to prevent gays and lesbians getting access to rights?” she asked.

Collins explained to the meeting what had happened with Section 16. She said in theoriginal 24 October draft government could not discriminate against anyone at any time. However, she said that Minister Alden McLaughlin told the HRC that the churches could not accept such a wide-ranging right applying to gays and lesbians. Following this a proposal was put forward, which was first explained to the HRC on 8 January 2009. Collins said a note was circulated explaining the proposal which said:

“The effect of such a formulation would be that if, for example, “other” discrimination were held to include discrimination against homosexuals or transsexuals, such discrimination would only fall foul of this section [16] if it were in respect of the rights set out under Part 1 of the Constitution (the Bill of Rights).”

Collins said that in spite of the HRC objections the proposal was agreed at the end of the second round of talks by the other delegates. “It is important to understand this because we are not saying that any one group is left out of rights that other people are enjoying. The list of the groups did not change, except to include gays and lesbians. Children, women, the disabled and the elderly and everyone else will still be included in the right, but the extent of the right itself was changed so that the government could discriminate against all of those people in certain areas,” she said.

She explained that everyone, not just gays has had their rights cut and that government used examples of how the change would allow it to discriminate. In one case government cited an example of being able to discriminate against women working as police officers and prevent them from doing certain jobs in the service if section 16 was limited to the rights of the constitution only.

“That is why the HRC were duty bound to explain to the public what this means for them. The government will be able to discriminate against anyone in the areas of healthcare, housing, employment, provision of social services, access to public spaces and many others because these are no longer covered. The government’s own written proposal recognised that fact,” she said.

McLaughlin defended the decision and said that have a free standing non-discrimination right was not just about restricting the rights of gays and lesbians, although he did admit that was the churches’ main objection. He said that with a free standing right government could be forced to educate all children, not just Caymanians, that Caymanians jobs would be at risk and that the entire landscape of Cayman would change.

However, Collins said the minister was scaremongering and pointed out to the audience that the rights to discriminate regarding the national interests of Caymanians in terms of employment, etc, were very clearly protected in Section 16b and that McLaughlin was misleading the people when he said a free standing right would undermine Caymanian rights in favour of other nationals.

A considerable number of people in the audience voiced their concerns over the limitation of rights as well as the four-year delay before implementing the separation of child offenders from adult offenders in the country’s prison system. The removal from the constitution of the right to be told that a person has the right to remain silent when being arrested was also questioned.

During the meeting, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts insisted that, although the constitutional document was certainly not perfect, it was the best that could be achieved given the circumstances and was a vast improvement in every respect of what Cayman currently has. He said the negotiations were done andthe time had come for a decision. Given the consensus that had been arrived at in London, except for the HRC, he asked the stakeholders to offer their endorsement of the document and let the country decide.

The HRC said it would not campaign against the document but it was duty bound to point out its shortcomings as that was their remit, especially as their suggestion to add a choice question at the referendum had been soundly rejected. Both the church representatives and the Chamber, while noting some reservations, did offer their endorsement, but McKeeva Bush, the Leader of the Opposition, reserved his commitment to the document by saying that, while there were some good things in it, the decision lay with the people and it was not his place to tell them to vote for it or not.

Although originally planned for today Friday 20 February the debate on the Referendum (Constitutional Modernisation) Bill, 2009 will take place in the Legislative Assembly at 10 am. Monday, 23 February. The change was made government said in order to give members more time to examine the bill. The passage of the bill is necessary in order to hold the referendum on the new draft constitution in May. A copy of the bill is available to the public at the Legislative Department, in the Legislative Assembly building; and on www.cila.ky

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I did reply to you in length: "You are disgruntled", but CNS has not posted it.

    So here is a small clipping from my long reply as i have it saved in my microsoft word. I don’t think it’s fair that CNS allow your accusations against me and not allowing me to stand up and defend myself by not posting my reply.  If you accuse me, then i should be given voice to reply to you.  This is an issue we are debating, so when i reply, you reply, when you reply, i reply, etc.

    Here is a small clip from my post:

    "Heterosexuals commit incest, so your argument is very weak.  For that matter you would have to also give no rights to heterosexuals just like you don’t want to give any rights to homosexuals.   Then we must make all sexual activity illegal according to your reasoning?  Because heterosexuals commit incest!  Homosexuality is no different a sexual sin to fornication or adultery.  Jesus says that a married man who looks at another woman lustfully commits spiritual adultery. "

    I am still hoping they will post my long reply to you because i see nothing wrong with it?  I read from the same Bible you read from, i am just pointing out what it says in some parts.  What’s wrong with that?  Why am i not allowed to speak in reply to defend myself?  That is Dictatorship – not a Democracy? 

    CNS: Some of your posts are just way way too long and rambling and tend to repeat a lot of what you say in other posts. Perhaps if you include an email address then anyone who is interested can continue the discussion with you personally. Alternatively, you could start your own blog (try http://www.blogger.com), where you can say whatever you like as often as you like for as long as you like. However, if you continue to write comments on this site, the shorter they are the more likely that they will be approved.

    • Anonymous says:

      If that was the highlight of your post then I can see why CNS did not post it. You are clearly struggling with the rudiments of logic. According to your argument everyone should be free to choose to do whatever and no one should have anything to say because it is between them and God. I tested your argument by positing the case of the incest and asking whether you would advocate that this should be legal on the same basis. Clearly, you are unwilling to address the question because the answer would no and you would have to acknowledge that your argument fails the test of logic.  The issue has nothing whatever to do with whether heterosexuals commit incest (which obviously they do), or whether people commit adultery in their thought life (which is clearly not prosecutable). You are not debating, you are just babbling. Incoherently.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To the writer who wrote the following:

    Any Christian who opposes the right of equality and freedom to choose for all, is opposing God himself!"

    There you have it, folks! Never mind the bible or any other book, St. Anonymous has spoken and made known the mind of God!  Why do I get the feeling the pastors are stepping on this person’s toes? Maybe he was waiting on the Bill of Rights to ‘come out’.

    The first sentence you quoted from my post of which beneath it in my post i explained what i meant that God made everyone with free will to choose what they want, and no human being can make any other human being choose because God Himself cannot.  (unless a child under the authority of their parent until they become of age or something like that) as i also stated.  Any human being that tries to force someone to choose something they they don’t want to choose goes against and opposes God Himself, because God himself made everyone with free will to choose what they want and He God cannot make their choices for them!  Now get it straight!  This is all in the Bible.  I would dare not say anything that i don’t know if it’s in the Bible, that is why i am very loud about saying it, i am only speaking what the Bible speaks!

    I am not a homosexual person if that is what you are trying to imply?  And i will not give you any hint as to my identity if that’s what you are trying to figure out is who am i???  Why should it matter who i am if God’s Truth in the Bible is God’s Truth!!  It shouldn’t matter who is speaking it??  Why are you not more concerned about God’s Truth written in the Bible than you are concerned about who is speaking it???  Strange motives you have there???  Seems hypocritical???  At the right time, my identity will become known to all.  Soon, i’m sure, it won’t be too long.  Cause i fear God, not man!  We who are the True followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ are called to speak the Truth of the Bible at all costs.  

    Homosexual persons are just people like all people who are created in the image of God.  God created all people in his image and loves all people. Sadly many people including some Pastors who lead their sheep astray by disobeying God’s Word on how to run a church orderly, and some homosexual persons, will not repent of their sins and will go to Eternal Hellfire forever. 

    So there you have it, stop being so simple minded and tunnel visioned cause i’m not a homosexual person.  And even if i was a homosexual person, you still wouldn’t be in the right in God’s eyes. 

    Jesus came to save not condemn.  God has an appointed Day for Judgment after the 1000 year millena spoken of in Revelation.  Now is time to spread the message of the Good News of the Hope in Eternal Life in the Lord Jesus Christ and to reap a harvest for Jesus, and that includes warning of Eternal Damnation for unrepented sins of course, but we are to show Jesus’ Love above all.   He extends the gift of salvation to us because He Loves us!  Simple! 

    Homosexual sins is no different to the Pastors sins of not obeying God’s Word on how to run an orderly church.   The Apostles and the Prophets are to Head over the Church and all the people in the church are to partake with their spiritual gifts God has given them from the day they became Born Again in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is for the strengthening, building up and edifying of God’s People.  But Pastors don’t like to follow that because it would equalize them too much with their congregation, and they would not have that Dictator power over them anymore!!  Don’t you read your Bible??  Why don’t you read your Bible so you can see who’s wrong and who’s right???  If you depend on your Pastor to teach you the Bible, you are in serious jeopardy of going to Eternal Hellfire.  Because many of them are disobeying God’s Word and leading you to disobey it also!  I think here in Cayman there is not one church Pastor who is leading their congregation right in God’s sight, not one!  (And if there by any chance happens to be some new one that maybe is following the right way God commands, let me know, I would love to attend!)

    Do you believe in the Bible?  or don’t you?   

    Hypocrites will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!!



    • Anonymous says:

      It is clear that you either really do not understand what scripture plainly says or you are being deliberately mischievous. The church has an obligation to speak out against evil, and the state has the God-given authority to legislate against evil.  Calling sin by its rightful name does not mean that one hates the sinner. Apparently, you believe that you are in position to warn others of hell-fire for their sins, but oppose those who would oppose the official blessing of sin saying they are hateful and hypocritical! Apparently you do not recognize the obvious hypocrisy in your own position.  Will you also advocate that people should be free to choose to commit incest (after all it’s simply between them and God)?

      Your philosophy (and that’s all it is, nothing to do with scripture) would ultimately result in anarchy but you are clearly too simple-minded to understand this.  So enough of this pretension to prophethood, you are doing the work of the Evil One – the Accuser of the Brethren. You are clearly a very disturbed person and have the makings of a cult leader.    

  3. Anonymous says:

    Any Christian who opposes the right of equality and freedom to choose for all, is opposing God himself!

    God created mankind with free will to choose what they want to choose.  God cannot choose for a person, so who does any other person think they have the right to choose for another.  Unless it is a parent with small children or something like that then of course the parent is raising the children and the children are under the rulership of the parent until they become of age. 

    If someone wants to choose to be gay, that is between them and God.  You are not their judge.  They are created in the image of God.  The God of the Bible commands all Christians to love everyone no matter what or who.

    Sin is sin.  Gossip is sin, gluttony is sin, jealousy and envy is sin, lying is sin, deceiving another by falsehood is sin.  Sin is sin.  The Bible says in First John 1 that any one who claims they have no sin is a liar and the truth is not in them.

    Jesus can deal with sin, but he cannot deal with hypocrisy and hypocrites and falsehood.  (Matthew 23).

    These Pastors are Dictators, not true Pastors.  They could not careless about the one who goes missing like in the Bible Jesus explains the good shepherd.  Pastor means Shepherd in the Bible meaning.  Jesus says the good shepherd goes looking for the one who went missing rather than stick around the 99 who are there.  These Pastors in these churches don’t give a hoot who they hurt or who goes missing.  They are not good shepherds.

    Besides, the Bible says clearly the order of the church is to be the Apostles and Prophets as Heads over the Pastors and the Church.  These Pastors blatantly disobey God’s Word (which is a sin) and carry out their own ways of having power over the people.  Disgusting and hypocritical!

    Thanks to this brilliant News Site CNS, the people are speaking up and standing up for their rights!  What these Pastors didn’t know, was that when they got their way with sitting at that drafting table for the Bill of Rights, that it would create an uproar against them and shine a spotlight on their own dictatorship in their own churches!  They got more than they bargained for!  It’s about time!!!  They need to repent before God, that is what those Pastors need to do.  Repent means to change from one’s ways.  It doesn’t mean sorry and continue the evil doings.  These Pastors need to Repent of their sins against God!




    • Anonymous says:

      "Any Christian who opposes the right of equality and freedom to choose for all, is opposing God himself!"

      There you have it, folks! Never mind the bible or any other book, St. Anonymous has spoken and made known the mind of God!  

      Why do I get the feeling the pastors are stepping on this person’s toes? Maybe he was waiting on the Bill of Rights to ‘come out’.



  4. Battyman says:

    I am looking forward to seeing Oscar winner Sean Penn in "Milk" here in Cayman.  No-one would oppose that would they?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Here is the Solution…. The Government is just trying to pull the web over our eyes here and get the Constitution passed. If the Government "wanted" to instill a Human Rights in the Cayman Islands then why dont they instill the Rights of people like what is done here…   http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html  and put that into our Constitution.

     If we be led and "misled" like the Government has been in many cases before, then we will be the ones to suffer, not the Cronies in our Government. They will be the ones dictating to Us what we Have to and Must do to make our lives more miserable and unbearable while enduring the lasting hardships of the Government creations.

    And the Solution is…. Read the Constitution very carefully and take note of  that which is the most powerful thing to be acheaved and that is the Premier for Cayman Islands. The only goal set to be acheaved in the making of the "Modernization of our Constitution". The one thing that will only create more hardships on the poor people and make the Rulers and Premiers more dominating, discriminating and dictating against the poor.  

    "Lets not vote "Yes" for the Constitution at this time as we have been without these Power Grabbers for as long as we have, and do the Constitution another time. Vote out this Government (and all in Government presently) and Replace them with worthy Caymanians to fill their posts".

     Get a grip on this Caymanians and lets not be misled by what Alden McLaughlin is Polishing us off with here. We will only create more havoc in the Country by keeping these Dictators in place to Rule over us and passing a Constitution will will only prove to be of "None Worthyness" to the People.

     As a concerned Caymanian, I urge all to think wisely and make the Inteligent choice now and do as outlined above, eventually saving us from Detrament and Downfall of our beautiful Cayman Islands.

      A concerned Caymanian.


    • Anonymous says:

      Well, there you have it – the insightful analysis we have been waiting for! The draft Constitution uses the term "Premier" which means that person is going to dominate and dictate so we must vote against the new Constitution. 

      Newsflash! We are currently being dominated and dictated by one who goes by the term "Governor" who has created havoc in the country and is not accountable to us for it. How do you propose that we make him accountable without a new Constitution? What additional checks and balances would you have proposed for the Premier. There is nothing in your post that is intelligent.

      I really have had it with the ‘Uncle Toms’.     

  6. anonymous says:

    Here is the solution:

    Govt. clearly needs to abandon this pathetic attempt at a constitution and start from scratch.

    Next time, however, do not takea radio talk show host, a Chamber of Commerce rep., and three religious nuts to negotiate in London!

    This is important. We need our best minds working on this.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Pathetic attempt at a constitution". Actually our negotiators did us proud. We achieved what other BOT’s were unable to achieve. Does it really make sense that we have no Bill of Rights at all than the proposed one?

      You clearly do not know Pastor Al Ebanks and Rev. Sykes if you believe they are "religious nuts". Both of these gentlemen are intelligent, knowledgeable, compassionate and courageous and with significant background on constitutional issues. However, their first allegiance is to the Almighty. No doubt this is your real problem with them.   

      The nature of negotiations is that no one gets everything they want. Grow up and deal with it.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    Of course the one right you all do have is the right to vote ‘no’ and if the entire document is not to your liking then you should go ahead and do just that. Animals seem to have more rights than humans all around the world these days. Here’s an idea. Maybe we should fly (economy class this time) the Government, Opposition and the Ministers Association for a weeks stay at Guantanamo before it closes down. As the old saying goes, “if you caan hear then you goin have feel”.

  8. Bruce says:

    What the HRC has not said is who will be able to piggy back on the disabled and others. All work permit holders will be allowed to have their children here and we may not be able to deny foreign nationals employment over Caymanians. The HRC needs to answer these questions

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Bruce,
      The HRC addressed these points at the public meeting on thurs eve: section 16(4)(b) provides it will not be discriminatory to have laws in favour of Caymanians in immigration or business. Hope this helps.

      • Anonymous says:

        "The HRC addressed these points at the public meeting on thurs eve: section 16(4)(b) provides it will not be discriminatory to have laws in favour of Caymanians in immigration or business. Hope this helps".

        A determined court can find its way around this language. Just see the Privy Council decision in Thompson v. Bermuda Dental Board even though the Bermuda Human Rights Act gives special protections to Bermudians.  Do not be deceived by the HRC, people.


  9. Anonymous says:

    I would love to sign the Petition, but as an ex-pat I am unable to do so because of the risk of oppressive treatment given the lack of basic rights of free speech in Cayman.  Good luck to those fighting the good fight, you have many, many silent supporters who cannot come to your side out of fear that we will lose our jobs and the right to live with the ones we love.



  10. Anonymous says:

    THAT IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION… Who is running this country?? The LOGB has a good extension cord!!

     A "true Caymanian" by every right!!    

  11. Anonymous says:

    The ministers association will not allow their flocks to support universal human rights in the Cayman Islands.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I watched Alden turn red with embarrassment and splutter the most rambling, incoherent nonsense for 5-6 minutes in a lame attempt to answer the very hard questions put to him by the HRC and the angry members of the public, who are incensed by this "political agreement" he has made with the churches.

    Person after person got up and asked "why was section 16 changed" and "why was the right to silence changed".  It is clear that nearly all of the parties at the negotiating table are obviously out of their depth when dealing a legal document like a constitution.  The incompetence of our elected officials is glaringly obvious.

    Alden blubbering, McKeeva rambling, ministers shouting scriptures and socio-religious policy, Kurt looking lost and embarrased and turning to Alden for answers – to points that he surely must know himself by now! – they are clearly in so much discomfort to explain this document, its content and its meaning to anyone – and more importantly, what changes have been made and why.

    To top it all off, the parties only seem to agree on one point – that this document is "not ideal" but is a cobbled-together compromise between the churches and the politicians up for election.

    Disgraceful. I for one, will vote ‘NO’.   There is no reason to run the risk of not being able to correct this if we do not take the time to draft it properly. A constitution is just too important to half-azz it.



  13. Anonymous says:

    The Minister needs to come down off  his "high horses" and you know what this will not help him this re-election year! One would think that he is the Leader of Government Business with ALLTHE TALKING HE DOES!!

    A Caymanian!!


    • Twyla M Vargas says:


      But where is the leader, we cant find him.

        Who is running this country anyway?

  14. Anonymous says:

    We have no constitutional human rights now, yet I do not know of any Govt. directly discriminating against any Caymanian in relation to any service or opportunity that is offered. Not saying that everything ideal, but most things are as best as they can be given certain practicalities & limitations. For example, all buildings may not have disabled access but all recently constructed building do, due to changes in the Planning laws and some older buildings are changing as the tenants/customers insist.

    Why then do some persons seem to think that if we now get constitutional human rights, some Govt. agencies MAY decide to discriminate on all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons?

    Let’s take a giant step forward now. In time, if we can see that all theconcern was for nought, then we can inform our Govt. that we wish to take another step on various fronts. Maybe even by the next election.

  15. Satina DaCosta Cottam says:

     Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

    There is much conversation about the so-called muddled issues regarding section 16 of the draft Constitution.  Some people believe it is about protecting Christianity.  Some people believe it is about homophobia.  Some people believe it is about protecting the rights of the disabled.   Some people believe it is about protecting Caymanian heritage at all costs even it is to limit the rights of the disabled.

    The fact is if you are reading my comments, the chances are, you are a human being.  No matter if you come from Turkmenistan or Little Cayman you belong to the human race.

    If all human beings are not born free and equal in dignity and rights, then no on is free.

    I am a human being that happens to be a wife, daughter and Caymanian.  I do not support section 16 of the draft Constitution because it takes away the rights of human beings.

  16. anonymous says:

    Please sign the Equality Cayman petition online


    Do it now. It only takes a second. Please don’t let down all the Caymanians who deserve and need a proper bill of rights.