Local activists support HRC

| 17/02/2009

(CNS): A new grass roots activist organisation has been formed to support the Human Rights Committee’s stand on the need for a choice in the forthcoming referendum on the constitution regarding the controversial Section 16 – the non-discrimination right. Equality Cayman has been established by a group of Caymanians and its goal is to petition the government to include two alternative versions of Section 16 in the 20 May referendum, allowing the Caymanian people to choose for themselves.

The campaigners say they are encouraging the public to educate themselves on the details of the constitution and the rights that it currently denies them, and understand the difference between the original free standing right first proposed and the new compromised position that will be put before the people for a vote.

“HRC members, particularly Sara Collins and Melanie McLaughlin, have made tremendous personal sacrifices over the past 18 months in an effort to protect the rights of every resident of these Islands,” said Carlene Alexander, a spokesperson for Equality Cayman. “Ironically, they have had to fight objections from some members of the public who would themselves be protected by these rights.”

Alexander stated that the drive behind the campaign came because organisers believe it is time that the public became less complacent and took responsibility for their own destiny. “The HRC has fought the good fight. If we want our children and our children’s children to have the right to not be discriminated against then we need to do our part to make that happen,” she added.

Local response to the campaign has been positive and dramatic, the group says, with Equality Cayman’s Facebook page attracting more than 323 members in less than a week after its launch. Campaign organizers said that most people were simply unaware or confused about the details of the amendments to Section 16.

“Most of us paid little attention to this process because we figured that when it came to human rights, our government would do the right thing,” Alexander added. “We thought that even if our government did try to deny us what are now, by world standards, the most basic of human rights then surely the UK government would put things right, but that has not been the case.”

However, the campaign is faced with direct opposition from the church, which states that it is not possible for government to insert an extra choice as this would be asking people to vote for a constitution that does not exist. Reverend Nicholas Sykes, a representative of the Cayman Ministers Association, a key stakeholder in the talks, said that the deal is done with the UK and cannot be undone.

“This issue does not depend on what the church wants or does not want; we have an agreement with the UK,” he told CNS.” If there was any change to this part of the constitution the whole deal would be altered, and this could not happen in time for a May referendum.” He added that it was cloud cuckoo land for the HRC or its supporters to think a third choice could be offered.

Rev. Sykes also insisted that the points being argued by the HRC and others over Section 16 were misleading and stated that the section proposed in the new constitution is the same sort of restriction as that found in the European Convention on Human Rights Article 14.

He explained that while the UK had acknowledged that in principle it believes non-discrimination rights should be free standing, the point that both the HRC and now Equality Cayman are campaigning for has still not been adopted by the UK itself.

He said there were dangers ahead for Cayman if it were to go down the road of accepting Section 16 as a free standing right.  “We can be sure that a free-standing provision here would result in a flood of new cases testing the extent of the new provision," Rev Sykes added.

For more details on the new campaign and grass roots group, contact Carlene Alexander at: 916 4382 or equalitycayman@gmail.com or log on to www.equalitycayman.ky or go to Facebook page “Equality Cayman”.



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  1. Anonymous says:

    To the writer who wrote "This is not a Christian country.  It is a place where a significant percentage of the resident population follow conservative Christian principles.  These "so-called Christians" can do what they want behind closed doors.  But please don’t shove it down our faces. I consider myself a Christian.  I am horrified by the hatred and intolerance shown by our "Christian leaders".  I pray for Rev. Sykes and Pastor Al but I fear they are beyond salvation."

    I am a Christian too and your words echo my words i have been saying for years here.  I 100% agree with all you have written here.  I wish i could meet you in person!  So many Christians here are blinded by church leadership.  It is refreshing to meet Christians who can see the Truth!

    God Bless You!  I am the one who also has been writing in many comments on this whole issue of these Pastors sitting at the Draft table.  As a matter of fact, CNS doesn’t always post all my posts.   So i can only guess as to which ones they may post and which they may not?  Seems like everytime i speak out against hypocrisy in the churches my post gets squashed.

    I am so glad this Bill of Rights issue is exposing the manipulative wicked control of Pastors and Church Leadership over the People, treating the People as though they are dumb, stupid and their input is invaluable!  It is time for the True Christians to arise!!!  Jesus came to save, heal and set free people from death, darkness and bondage.  He did not come to manipulate and control and dictate to people!  So why do the Pastors manipulate, control and dictate to people?  Could it be their agenda is really not about Jesus at all!  It’s about themselves, their self ego, and Mammon (money).

    Again i say, the Bible says that Apostles and Prophets head over the Pastors and everyone else in the Churches.  Where are the Apostles and Prophets???  The churches are out of alignment with the Bible’s instructions!  They are not following Biblical order in the churches!  That is rampant disrespect to God!

  2. Jab-Jab says:

    Yes, lets have a petition.

    Lets get down to brass tacks and see how many people really support an ‘open ended, free standing, 365-degree, all inclusive’ human rights clause. When they get only a few people supporting maybe they’ll realise they’re mistaken, but I doubt it.

    On a practical note, if this particular clause should get voted on directly, why not several others in the proposed consttution which many could agree that we disagree on? I wish the HRC would stop abusing my right to a clear public vote on the new constitution with their private interests. <See how much fun this undefined-rights thing is?>

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is not a Christian country.  It is a place where a significant percentage of the resident population follow conservative Christian principles.  These "so-called Christians" can do what they want behind closed doors.  But please don’t shove it down our faces. I consider myself a Christian.  I am horrified by the hatred and intolerance shown by our "Christian leaders".  I pray for Rev. Sykes and Pastor Al but I fear they are beyond salvation.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well done Pastor Al, Rev Sykes and CMA and our government. 

    HRC’s stand may sound like a good idea in theory, but when it comes down to practical application Cayman needs to realize the implications; you only have to look at countries like the USA where madness prevails to see what can happen with a bill of rights such as the one the HRC is proposing we have. 

    And why is everyone crying down the ministers’ stand/? In case you forgot the UK signed off on the proposed bill of rights and the ministers, like every other stakeholder, is making a stand for what they believe is in the best interest of Cayman- just because you do not agree with their stand does not give them any less right to stand up for it.  The HRC is the only body not on board- maybe you should think about what they are now doing to the lengthy process that has gotten us to this point.  I do not support the HRC’s or Equality Cayman’s movement.

     Not everything that glitters is gold- HRC has their own agenda even if they are not stating what it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should indeed be proudof our negotiators. The HRC are behaving liked spoiled brats. Cayman let’s show them that they don’t speak for us and they certainly don’t represent our values.

  5. anonymous says:

    If you think discrimination is bad and human rights are good then please send an email to equalitycayman@gmail.com and request a petition asking that the people of Cayman be given the chance to improve the draft constitution.

  6. noname says:

    Thank God! I will be signing up as soon as I get home this evening. Well done – Rev. Sykes should be ashamed of himself.

    I know both Sara and Melanie personally and they are people of the utmost integrity. However, I have serious doubts about the honesty and motives of the politicians (desperate for reelection) and the CMA (rabidly homophophic).

    The only people we can trust in this mess is Sara and Melanie – independent, honest, professional attorneys, women, mothers and Caymanian – volunteers so they do not have any hidden agenda except love of their country and people (which is what we should get from our elected officials and the church – but sadly DO NOT).

    I am with HRC on this one!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well done! I hope the public comes out in support of this and that it is the biggest grass roots movement Cayman has ever seen.

    I would like to take my hat off to Ms. Alexander for having the courage and grace to lead the way.