Magdalen College JCR has released a statement after Dinah Rose’s representation of the Cayman Islands in a case regarding gay marriage. The JCR has confirmed that they “unreservedly and unconditionally supports the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the Cayman Islands and around the world, including the right to marriage” and are looking into ways to show this support. They also stated that they recognised the “importance of legal representation for all”. As a result, the JCR has rejected any calls for Rose to resign as President.
The statement follows a JCR meeting which was held on the 31st of January. The meeting lasted approximately four hours and over 120 people were present at the meeting’s peak, although only approximately 100 of these were present for the final vote. 85% of students voted for the final motion while 11% voted against and 4% abstained.
The statement can be read below in full:
“It has recently come to light that Dinah Rose QC, President of Magdalen College, will be appearing on behalf of the government of the Cayman Islands in an upcoming case. She will represent the government’s position that their constitution does not establish a right to same-sex marriage. The unexpected disclosure of Dinah Rose QC’s involvement in this case has caused distress among students at Magdalen and the wider university, and has been a stark reminder of the distance we still need to cover to secure equal rights around the world.
On the 31st of January, a General Meeting of the Magdalen College JCR discussed this news. The JCR unreservedly and unconditionally supports the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the Cayman Islands and around the world, including the right to marriage. The JCR has resolved to look into ways through which it can support the LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands and around the world, and bring these to a vote in future General Meetings.
The JCR recognises the importance of legal representation for all, a key element of which is not conflating the views of lawyers with those of their clients. This is a fundamental principle of justice which the JCR firmly supports. It therefore rejects calls for Dinah Rose QC to resign from her position as President.
The JCR understands that the 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+. It has resolved to 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.”
The JCR Committee, on behalf of Magdalen College JCR.
This meeting followed a session between Magdalen students and Dinah Rose QC. While the contents of the meeting were confidential, one student tweeted that Dinah Rose QC would “face questions from Magdalen students about the Cayman litigation. I wish her good luck, and knowledge that many students are fully behind her”.
Many leading legal commentators have issued statements of support for Dinah Rose QC after Edwin Cameron’s criticism. Edward Fitzgerald QC, who is acting on behalf of Chantelle Day and Vicki Bush in the Privy Council case in February, stated that “as a barrister, Dinah Rose QC was acting perfectly properly in accepting the brief for the attorney general in the Day and Bush case. It would be a breach of her professional duty to return it now. It is an important constitutional principle that barristers should not be identified with the clients they represent.” While Dr Leo Raznovich, has argued that Dinah Rose QC’s statement regarding the position of civil partnerships in the Cayman Islands was “misleading”, Joshua Rozenberg QC (hon) has also said: “It’s extraordinary that Dinah Rose, of all people, should be accused of supporting homophobia… Crucially, those who are now attacking the Cayman government’s legal team for acting in this case are giving comfort to those in the UK government who attack “leftie lawyers””.