Homophobia’s got a way of lasting the test of time. Massachusetts-based gay activist Aaron Chandler certainly learned that lesson this week.
The 23-year old wrote in from the Grand Cayman Islands, where he and some friends are currently on vacation. Chandler explained that he, his boyfriend and some gal pals went out for a night of dancing when a police officer broke up their party to reprimand Chandler for “showing public affection” with his boyfriend.
The men originally blew the copper off, but learned a lesson when, after they kissed again, the copper called for backup.
Now, before you get scared, Chandler wasn’t attacked or beaten or anything terrible like that. Instead, Chandler, who once worked on Seattle’s Commission for Sexual Minorities, received a taste of legal inconsistencies. From the homo’s mouth:
When the superior arrived, he picked me up and took me, in the back of his police car, to the police station here in Georgetown. On the way there, he confided in me that he believes that the law is stupid and a waste of time, but that he has to enforce it.
There are two problems here, one more severe than the other. First, the fact that sexual policing remains on the books in this British territory confounds, but doesn’t surprise. Gibraltar, another British overseas territory, maintains discriminatory age of consent laws. Former protectorates such as the Islands – and other sovereign lands – cling to Britain’s antiquated anti-gay laws.
Chandler wondered how something like this could happen, and it’s quite simple: overseas territories such as Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands and others have their own legal systems, which means they can have whatever laws they want. That’s the beauty of sovereignty.
The problem, however, arises when these regions refuse to evolve socially and, even worse, educate their officials on responsible policing.
While the United Kingdom does not have political or legal control over these regions, which are former protectorates, not colonies, the European nation does still bankroll many of these regions. And, if you ask us, the UK should flex its financial muscle a bit and encourage coppers and other authorities in its overseas territories to discard colonial-era attitudes. If apathy and confusion continue to dominate, well, we might as well be living in the 1800’s.
In the meantime, why don’t you give the Islands’ tourism bureau a call. They’re apparently very gay friendly and we’re sure they’d love to help things move along.