The group says ‘Business must project a more positive image - and we are keen to work closely with them to this end'
‘We are concerned to be receiving more and more reports about humiliating and discriminatory treatment of gay people by some Gibraltar businesses,’ a statement from Equality Rights group has today expressed.
‘This is by no means the first time we have received such reports. But it is the growing trend which is sounding alarms. As an organisation, it is often difficult for us to verify the circumstances provided to us, yet the consistency of the details and specific locations involved are beginning to add up,' Chairman Felix Alvarez added.
‘Equality Rights group is hopeful that Government will be introducing legislation soon to outlaw the denial of goods and services to anyone on the basis of particular categories – whether sexual orientation, race, disability or any other grounds.
‘If the reports we have been receiving are correct – and the volume and consistency over time are leading us in that direction – then we must begin to be conscious of a growing problem. As more and more gay people not only demand but also expect equal treatment, the trend is almost inevitable and we must have provisions in place to halt it.
‘It is a well-known fact that LGBT citizens have a higher-than-average disposable income. In a competitive environment, it makes little business sense to reject rather than court local consumer sectors. The only effect otherwise is to drive them over the border. While GGR does not presently support the call to boycott certain local businesses that may be implicated, we do call on fairness and reason to be the guiding principles when businesses deal with customers (regardless of their social category). They are, after all, customers first and foremost. It is important to avert repetitions and further escalation in this situation.
‘Nonetheless, while unseemly sexual or other behaviour from any individual in a public place is unacceptable, common shows of human affection (a kiss, hug, holding of hands or dancing together) should not be grounds for drastic and humiliating action against a client. They’re not for heterosexuals – why should they constitute grounds for humiliation or throwing out of gay people?
‘If any business considers that such ordinary human affection and gestures in any way violates their ‘family’ business plan focus, we would remind them that LGBT people were born in families, are part of families, and also create families. And GGR - which includes both gay and straight supporters - will not accept homophobic policies from any quarter.
‘GGR is, nonetheless, certain that Gibraltar businesses are, in the main, sensible and protect their customers’ interests because, in the long haul, they are also the interests of the businesses themselves,' Mr Alvarez said. 'It is also good to see some companies supporting and investing in the Community in which they are rooted. Business must project a more positive image - and as Chairman of GGR, I am always keen to discuss issues and work closely with them to this end.'