Oxford African and Caribbean Society has this evening said it “condemns” Magdalen College’s President, Dinah Rose QC, after it emerged that she was set to represent the Caymanian Government’s anti-gay marriage stance in court for a second time.

As well as outlining the society’s support for LGBTQ+ students, the ACS noted that: “Unfortunately, the inherently racial dynamics of this situation have been side-lined from the conversation”. The statement points out that the Cayman Islands’ population is “80% non-white” and that as such this was an intersectional issue, especially given “Britain’s historical legacy of implementing homophobic and transphobic laws within their colonies”.

Due to the magnitude of the situation as set out above, Oxford ACS’s statement continued to say that: “Dinah Rose cannot in good faith help to set back LGBT laws in a Caribbean island and simultaneously claim to support LGBTQ+ and BAME students in Magdalen”. 

They believe, therefore, that “Ms. Rose should have referred herself to the Bar Council if she truly wanted to prioritise Magdalen and Oxford’s equality policies, which include sexuality as well as race.”

Given the position outlined in the rest of the statement, they concluded their message thusly: “We reiterate and wholeheartedly support the calls urging her to reconsider this decision, as well as to donate to charities or shelters supporting LGBT people in the Caribbean, such as OutRight International or the Rainbow Railroad.”

The full statement is on Oxford ACS’s Facebook page, and can also be read below:

*Oxford ACS Statement on Dinah Rose QC*

CW: Homophobia, Racism

The Oxford African and Caribbean Society condemns Magdalen College’s President Dinah Rose’s advocacy for anti-gay litigation on behalf of the Cayman Island government, hindering her ability to uphold the welfare of Magdalen College’s LGBTQ+ and Caribbean students. Magdalen students, and queer students of colour in the wider Oxford community have expressed how disheartened they feel regarding the situation, demonstrating how incompatible it is her to support this case and fulfil her pastoral duties towards the wellbeing of students. As the Oxford LGBTQ+ Society statement has highlighted, this conversation is fundamentally about the pre-eminence of her presidential duties. In three days, LGBT history month will start in the UK, and Black History Month will start in North America. This case will be an unfortunate beginning to both commemorations, and we urge for meaningful responses to the concerns of Oxford’s marginalised students.

Unfortunately, the inherently racial dynamics of this situation have been side-lined from the conversation. The litigation she is advocating for will be setting back LGBTQ+ legislation in a Caribbean island consisting of roughly 80% non-white citizens of Mixed race, African and Asian descent. Considering Britain’s historical legacy of implementing homophobic and transphobic laws within their colonies, the optics of this situation are not dissimilar. The University’s recent commitments to tackling their racism in the aftermath of 2020’s Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall protests will also suffer from this case. Dinah Rose cannot in good faith help to set back LGBT laws in a Caribbean island and simultaneously claim to support LGBTQ+ and BAME students in Magdalen. The intersectionality of this problem is even more important given the disproportionate risk of violence queer people of colour face, especially Black people. Ms. Rose should have referred herself to the Bar Council if she truly wanted to prioritise Magdalen and Oxford’s equality policies, which include sexuality as well as race.

As the former member of the South African Constitutional Court and current gay rights activist Edwin Cameron has stated, “there is a direct line between homophobic conduct like that of the Caymans government and the terrifying levels of violence and brutality that, even now, are being perpetrated against LGBTIQ people in neighbouring Jamaica (one of the most homophobic societies in the world)”. Dinah Rose must engage with these concerns critically instead of only interacting with individuals supporting her position. We reiterate and wholeheartedly support the calls urging her to reconsider this decision, as well as to donate to charities or shelters supporting LGBT people in the Caribbean, such as OutRight International or the Rainbow Railroad.

If anyone in the ACS would like welfare support on this issue, feel free to reach out to Nadia (our LGBTQ+ officer) or Ibti and Keisha (our welfare officers).

The Oxford African and Caribbean Society

Image Credits: Wikimedia

Mitchell Marshall

Mitch (he/ him) is Editor-in-Chief for Trinity term 2021 as well as a long-suffering Sunderland fan, keen runner and general sports obsessive. His other interests include indie music, arthouse cinema,...