Activists keep hope alive for constitutional choice

| 10/03/2009

(CNS): Despite the recent passage of the Referendum bill, local grass roots organisation Equality Cayman still hopes to persuade government to offer the people of the Cayman Islands a choice when they go to the polls on 20 May to decide on the country’s new Constitution. Having organised a petition to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the community regarding Section 16, the group said that the last day for members of the public to sign it will be Sunday, 15 March.

“It is our hope that we can persuade government to offer the people of the Cayman Islands the chance to choose the full right of non-discrimination,” Carlene Alexander, one of the founders of Equality Cayman, said. “We are aware of the passage of the bill but our understanding is that the government has the ability to amend the law and enable a third choice. We remain optimistic that they will consider giving people that choice and believe there still is time to influence the process."

She noted that if enough people stand up then the mistake of adopting a constitution that is an insult to the cherished concepts of fairness and equality for all can be avoided. The organisation has received a significant response from the community with a ground swell of people supporting the position of a free standing right.

"Unfortunately, some misleading and confusing information is coming from those who are actively fighting against strong rights for all people in Cayman," Alexander continued. "Equality Cayman believes the people will figure this out. As the decisive day draws closer we expect that they will see that one side is arguing for their rights and one side is working to prevent them from having full rights. In the end, it makes no sense for typical Caymanians with families and a basic sense of right and wrong to oppose rights and protection from discrimination for all because it benefits them. Even those who are fighting against a stronger bill of rights would themselves be protected by it, as would their children and grandchildren."

Equality Cayman rejects the claim that the draft constitution would be a good start that can be built upon and has stated that this constitution is more appropriate for the 18th century than the 21st century. The organisation contends that the United States, for example, made key mistakes in their constitution that required 200 years and a civil war to correct.

“The British Virgin Islands, a mostly conservative Christian society, adopted a constitution that includes a strong bill of rights and there has been no ‘collapse of moral fibre’ there. Furthermore, the BVI has been able to keep all appropriate protections for its own citizens on matters such as
education," Alexander said.

She explained that Equality Cayman does not have a political position and it is not supporting one party over another. The group’s aim, she said, is simply to ensure that no one is discriminated against.

“Our entire focus is on trying to get the best possible constitution for the people of the Cayman Islands," she added. “I am confident that my fellow Caymanians want full rights and do not want to be discriminated against in any circumstances. We deserve this from our government.”

The Equality Cayman Face Book page currently has 590 members with several more joining every day, and the organisation states that there is now a sense among members that momentum is building. “The Caymanian people are realizing what is at stake and how important it is for our constitution to include stronger rights and better protection from government discrimination for all," Alexander said.

The petition is online at www.equalitycayman.ky and Equality Cayman members also have hard copies for people to sign. Thepetition, addressed to the "Cayman Islands Government" includes the following statement:  “By signing this petition, I am asking the Cayman Islands Government to give the people the right to choose in the 20 May, 2009 referendum between the full right to be free from discrimination by the Government or the limited right that is contained in section 16 of the Bill of Rights in the current draft Constitution. Please allow me to let my voice be heard and let my vote be counted.”

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Comments (11)

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  1. T. Gilliland says:

     

    Gossip – “at least one of their members is a public servant”

    Selfihness – “I want my government to be able to discriminate to benefit me”

    And these are the strong Christian characteristic that we are trying to protect??

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you expect a Caymanian to go to the US and have the same rights as an American? Get real…..

    • Anonymous says:

      "Gossip – “at least one of their members is a public servant”".

      That is not gossip you clown, that is a verifiable fact and pertinent to the point.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am a Caymanian and I do not want equal rights- I want more rights in my own country- I want my government to be able to discriminate (please lets remember this is not always a bad word) to benefit me.

    Ms. Alexander said on the radio she wants a perfect consituiton- wake up my dear!  The consitution in its present form affords us much more protection as Caymanians than we presently have and what you and the HRC are asking for puts our rights at risk for a court to decide what is "justifiable" discrimination.   It has nothing to do with prejudice, thats not the point at all.

    I repeat- I DO NOT want equal rights in my country- I want more rights because as a Caymanian thats what I deserve.

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    How would they "just realize" their members is a public servant??  Don’t be ridiculous. These ladies are all friends of mine and do not work for HRC. It may be hard for a smallminded person such as yourself to imagine but Caymanians do have minds opinions and judgments of their own, including to start a simple petition asking Government for a choice.  

  4. Guy P. Harrison says:

    The previous comment accusing Equality Cayman of being a front for the Human Rights Committee and not being a true grassroots organization is not reasonable or accurate.

    Of course Equality Cayman has a relationship with the Human Rights Committee. The founding members of Equality Cayman were inspired by the work of the Human Rights Committee and frequently ask them questions about things we do not understand regarding the draft constitution.

    To say that Equality Cayman is not a grassroots organisation is ludicrous. We have nearly 300 signatures on the online petition alone (more on hard copy petitions) and we have nearly 600 members on the Equality Cayman Facebook page. The Human Rights Committee is made up of just 12 people. A few of them are also members of Equality Cayman. So what? Clearly Equality Cayman has connected with the broader public, which is only to be expected because we are promoting a bill of rights that would be good for everyone.

    Anyone who doubts the sincerity of Equality Cayman, or its support from people in the Cayman community, only has to visit the online petition page and read the many comments left by signers in support of rights and equality for all. 

    The petition can be accessed at http://www.equalitycayman.ky

    I think it is important to add that Equality Cayman is not interested in fighting or debating with anyone solely for the sake of making noise. We have no position regarding political parties or candidates. We have no hidden agendas or ulterior motives. We are nothing more than a loose collection of well-meaning people on a very simple mission: Getting the best constitution possible for the people of the Cayman Islands.

    We believe all people should be treated fairly and protected from unjust discrimination. We invite all those who agree with that simple position to join us. 

  5. anonymous says:

    Anyone who opposes equal rights and protection from discrimination for all is on the wrong side of both history and morality.

    It’s 2009 people! This is not rocket science. It’s very simple:

    Prejudice bad.

    Fairness good.

    Got it now?

     "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

    –Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Equality Cayman is not a grass roots organisation – it is promoted by and is a front for the HRC which has now realized that at least one of their members is a public servant cannot be seen to be actively politicking against the Govt.   

    • WSF says:

      Well, your comments certainly show how uninformed you are.  Perhaps you may wish to do more research next time before committing yourself to text.

  7. Good luck says:

    Good luck Equality Cayman!  Your best chance of getting justice lies in the UK not Cayman.  Try working with UK rights groups and UK gay rights groups.  They have more leverage over the UK goverment.

    • Anonymous says:

      To  "Good luck equality Cayman", the UK does not even have the proposals Equality Cayman and the HRC are proposing, think again…