Will same-sex issue impact the CCJ Referendum?

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Same-sex relationships is one of the key, but unspoken of issues that will likely impact the people’s decision on whether to stay with or move away from the Privy Council as the nation’s final appellate court.
This is according to social commentator Arvel Grant, who adds that people’s religious views, financial situation and other matters will influence the vote on referendum day, November 6.
“The impact is going to be located in the minds of those people who may believe that if a case goes to the Privy Council to try and decriminalise same sex relationships that the privy council may say yes. Whereas, if a case of that sort ends up with the CCJ, they may [believe that] because of where the CCJ is located culturally, it may say no, let the law stand,” he says.
Grant also adds, “It is in those ways that I think the people who are for and against the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) really need to be careful that they are not missing the big things that are playing in the privacy of the people’s minds.”
While he commends the current debate which he says has been robust, he elaborates on how he thinks the human rights issue may play a greater role in the vote than many believe.
For the most part, across the Caribbean, same sex relationships are not legal, and buggery, even between consenting adults, is a crime.
The practice is publicly condemned by many Caribbean people and Grant says, “There are a number of those types of things that form part of the thinking of people and have them wondering whether or not
their perspective, their expectations or their norms would be preserved by the CCJ.
 “At the end of the day, the arguments will inform the process but ultimately what people feel, in terms of their moral perspective, their social and financial perspectives, in terms of how they view the potential role of the appeal court in settling disputes between themselves and their employers, between themselves and their families as it relates to bits and pieces of land and so on, a lot of those quiet things will determine how people vote,” he states.
 On November 6, the electorate will be asked to choose between the privy council – the current final appellate court based in London – and the CCJ which is based in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, win or lose on the referendum, Grant says the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party administration is not likely to suffer any political fallout that would impact the next general elections constitutionally due four and a half years from now.
He says that by that time, the people would no longer be emotional about the issue regardless of which court is chosen – unless of course the court gives some ruling that does not resonate well with the majority of the people.

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