Cayman Islands votes on constitution, legislature

Posted on 21 May 2009 at 6:38pm
By Associated Press

Human rights activists say new constitution would discriminate against gays

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — Voters in the Cayman Islands on Wednesday, May 20 were electing a new parliament and deciding whether the British Caribbean territory should have a new constitution.

The 43 candidates vying a total of 15 seats in the Legislative Assembly have focused on issues including tourism, the economy and the financial services sector. The Cayman Islands was recently placed on the international "gray list" of global tax havens, which means it has not completely complied with rules on sharing tax information.

Most candidates believe the islands should never have been on the list, while some criticize the government for not having done enough to keep it off the list.

The ruling People’s Progressive Movement is trying to hold on to a majority of seats and has promised to keep taxes level and create a national minimum wage. The opposing United Democratic Party has pledged to develop the private sector and create a job-placement program for unemployed workers with help from business leaders.

Despite the global economic crisis, the government anticipates a surplus of $100 million.

Voters also are deciding whether to adopt a new constitution that would establish the leader of government business as premier and set a limit of two consecutive terms. It also would increase parliamentarian seats from 15 to 18 and allow the islands to gain more autonomy from Britain.

Human rights activists oppose it because they say it would allow unequal treatment toward gays in regards to jobs, housing and medical treatment.

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