Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our EU Report goes public!

Equality Rights group GGR has today made public a report (below) developed upon the request of the European Commission and entitled “Rights in Gibraltar.”

Chairman Felix Alvarez stated that “The Report was submitted in February and sufficient time has now elapsed for us to consider our confidentiality duty fulfilled as it is only right that the Gibraltar public should have access to the document. In contrast, we understand that Government has now developed proposals for a Disability Ordinance. We challenge Mr Caruana to publish the draft proposal in order to stimulate public discussion and participation in an issue which, no doubt, this community feels strongly about. It is the kind of thing that Governments with a genuine belief in transparency do all the time and we urge Mr Caruana to demonstrate his credentials by establishing a similar tradition here in Gibraltar.”

“GGR's “Rights in Gibraltar” report deals with four issues – three of which are of general public interest: disability, British residents’ rights, and sexual minorities. Several recommendations contained in the Report will be of some interest – in particular, the recommendation that the UK Government should be required to include Gibraltar in all its reporting duties to the EU. This will avoid the current information vacuum which currently exists in Brussels regarding Gibraltar,” Mr Alvarez added.

“Whilst the UK periodically submits national reports on EU-related issues to the Commission, nowhere do Gibraltar issues figure in those documents. As I recently found when talking to EU Commissioners, this means that the EC is kept pretty much in the dark with respect to the way issues affect the Rock. This explains why I was requested to develop the Report which we are today making available.”

Mr Alvarez further comments that “There is little doubt in our minds that movement on the Disability Ordinance as well as progress which is currently being achieved on the sexual Age of Consent issue are direct results of this Report, though we very much doubt Government will want to acknowledge the fact. In the Study’s own words and on the latter issue, barely one month after the GGR report, the Commission ordered a specific legal Study “regarding the maintenance, in the legislation of Gibraltar, of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation [and] Such a provision is in clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.” The Study is clearly acknowledged to be prompted by the Gibraltar situation on the matter. The document highlights the juridical situation at European level, whilst placing Gibraltar within this context and providing proof positive of the level of concern Europe feels over Mr Caruana’s continuing neglect of sexual minorities’ rights in Gibraltar.”