The governor of the Cayman Islands has pleaded with people to be kind to each other, just a week after leaked messages from a Christian WhatsApp group showed members threatening to “lovingly” hang “one or two gays”.
Governor Martyn Roper said recent public discussion about LGBT+ people had been “irresponsible” and “shocking” during a COVID-19 press briefing on Friday (September 18).
While Roper did not name Cayman Caribbean Cause, the Christian group in question, he made a plea for people to treat each other with dignity and respect.
“I’ve seen a number of comments made on WhatsApp in recent days about the Civil Partnership Bill that I feel are deeply irresponsible. In fact, I find them quite shocking. The worst ones have been referred to the police to look into,” said Roper, according to the Cayman Compass.
“I’m not going to single out individuals or organisations but I call on both sides of this debate to lower the temperature and please think twice before posting anything on social media that would offend others in our community.”
The messages, which show an incomplete snippet of a discussion about gay and LGBT+ rights, are from members of Cayman Caribbean Cause – a Christian group that includes prominent leaders from the church community in the Cayman Islands, which are a British Overseas Territory.
In one, a member suggests “maybe hang one or two [gay people] in a loving way” as a warning to others.
Another message suggested implementing teachings from the Quran to criminalise homosexuality, reading: “If this was a Muslim country, they’d be [thrown] out by the thousands.”
Roper later added that copies of the leaked WhatsApp messages had been received by Police Commissioner Derek Byrne and were “being looked at”.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in the Cayman Islands in 2019, following a lawsuit by a lesbian couple. However later that year, the islands’ government won an appeal to overturn the legalisation.