Current Affairs

Magdalen JCR passes motion over Dinah Rose controversy

Magdalen College’s JCR last night passed a motion at a General Meeting amid controversy about its President Dinah Rose QC’s litigation on behalf of the Caymanian Government to block same-sex marriage.

The JCR has voted to do the following: 

  • “Put out a statement affirming the support of the JCR for the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands and around the world and the legal process.”
  • “Put out an affirmation of support for Dinah Rose in her role as president.”
  • “Work with Magdalen Staff, the MCR, the Equalities Committee, and all those involved in welfare provision at the college,  to support LGBTQ+ students and any others affected by these recent events.”
  • “Look into ways through which we as a JCR can support the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands and around the world, as well as the right to legal representation, and bring these to a vote in future general meetings.”

This motion is an amended version of the originally proposed motion. Roughly 10 amended versions were considered during the General Meeting. The meeting was extremely well-attended, with over 120 students present and lasted over 4 hours as students made speeches for and against revised editions of the motion.

In the end, these four resolutions were passed with 86% of students voting for the motion, and each individual line also being ratified before the final vote. 

Rose, a barrister at Blackstone Chambers, has been criticised for her involvement in the case by many students and campaigners – with some arguing that it conflicts with her responsibilities as the College’s President – but others, including many in the legal community, have come to Rose’s defence. Rose has said that it would be an “act of serious professional misconduct” to withdraw from the case at this stage.

The originally tabled motion proposed these four resolutions.

  • “Put out a statement affirming the support of the JCR for the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands, and specifically support for the right of gay marriage.”
  • “Strongly encourage Dinah Rose QC to donate the fees she is awarded for her role in the case to a cause supporting LGBTQ+ people and rights in the Cayman Islands.”
  • “Investigate whether the Governing Body knew the specific details of her case and whether they had discussed if her appointment and her ongoing case conflicted with each other, given her obligations to follow Magdalen’s Equality Policy.”
  • “Investigate the notion of ‘conflicting interests’ as it relates to the role of President of Magdalen, and if necessary consult with the Governing Body to define this more clearly.”

The full text of the passed motion is included below. 

The JCR notes that:

Dinah Rose QC will soon represent the government of the Cayman Islands in a case that seeks to appeal a judgement on same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands in 2019.  

The unexpected disclosure of Dinah Rose QC’s involvement in the case has caused a range of emotions among some students in both Magdalen and the wider university, including distress and confusion. 

This case has reminded the Magdalen community that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights continues to be fought around the world. 

The JCR believes that:

We support the right of Caymanian LGBTQ+ citizens to marriage equality. 

A lawyer should not be identified with the views of their client. This is a fundamental principle of justice and the JCR upholds this wholeheartedly and unconditionally. 

Coverage of this incident in the Oxford, national and global press has caused significant distress and concern to many students at Magdalen, including some who identify as LGBTQ+. 

The JCR is committed to fostering an inclusive environment for all students. 

The JCR resolves to:

Put out a statement affirming the support of the JCR for the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands and around the world and the legal process, including specific support for:

  • The rights of the LGBTQ+ community worldwide (including their rights to marriage)
  • The importance of not conflating the views of lawyers with those of their clients.
  • The importance of equal legal representation for all.
  • Reject any calls for Dinah Rose QC to resign. 

Put out an affirmation of support for Dinah Rose in her role as president.

Work with Magdalen Staff, the MCR, the Equalities Committee, and all those involved in welfare provision at the college,  to support LGBTQ+ students and any others affected by these recent events 

Look into ways through which we as a JCR can support the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands and around the world, as well as the right to legal representation, and bring these to a vote in future general meetings.

Magdalen’s JCR President has been contacted for comment.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Anvee Bhutani

Anvee Bhutani is the former Managing Director of The Oxford Blue, having also held a variety of roles on the editorial and business teams. She is a penultimate year student at Magdalen College reading Human Sciences and is originally from San Francisco, California. To reach out to her, please email anvee.bhutani@magd.ox.ac.uk