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Update: HRC Chairman responds to Speaker’s call for apology

Human Rights Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith has responded to House Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush’s call for an apology for his same-sex statement.

Speaker Bush made the announcement on Thursday morning (11 April,) saying the HRC chair issued a “fauxpology” to him.

Mr. Bush indicated that Mr. Austin-Smith will be demitting office in six weeks time.

Mr. Bush welcomed news of Mr. Austin-Smith’s departure from the Commission.

This departure was a pre-arranged end date for his term at the Commission and had been agreed to before over the same-sex marriage controversy.

In his 8 April letter to the Speaker Mr. Austin-Smith wrote, ” I do not agree that there is anything within the Press Release which could have been construed as an insult or resulted in “odium, contempt, [or] ridicule” being brought upon the House, and, certainly, I can assure you that that was not its intent.”

The response comes after the HRC issued a scathing statement knocking Government’s decision to appeal Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling allowing same-sex marriages in the Cayman Islands.

In that statement, the HRC called the appeal “unarguable” and a waste of public funds which would be better spent on social programmes. The statement also took issue with some legislators statements during debate on a motion on same-sex marriages.

Speaker Bush called the statement a contempt of the House, an insult and one meant to demean Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. He demanded an unconditional apology and Mr. Austin-Smith’s removal as chairman.

On Wednesday (10 April) the Court of Appeal granted Government a stay of execution on the Chantelle Day Vickie Booden-Bush ruling effectively blocking the judgment from taking effect and preventing the couple from getting married.  It also set the hearing of the appeal for August this year.

We will have more on this developing story in our newscast Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Editor’s note:

An earlier version of this story indicated that Mr. Austin-Smith had apologised to the Legislative Assembly, this was incorrect. We apologise for this error. The Speaker had in fact referred to the Chairman’s 8 April letter a “fauxpology.” As a point of clarification, Mr. Austin-Smith’s term as Chairman was determined prior to the start of this public issue on same-sex marriages.

 

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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