Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

GGR complains to EU President

In a communiqué today, Equality Rights Group GGR has made known the contents of correspondence with EU President Jose Manuel Barroso

Chairman Felix Alvarez revealed that GGR has been in contact with the EU Commission over some time and covering various issues. “Firstly, we are asking the EU President to take action against the Gibraltar Government for failing, to date, to implement the requirements of EU law with regards to the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission in Gibraltar. This should have been implemented along with the Equal Opportunities Ordinance some years back and we still have not seen this legal requirement materialise, even following the recent trumpeting by Government of measures required by the EU in the relevant Ordinance and certainly not as an act of political goodwill on their part as they would have us believe. In Government’s recent announcement of its plans to implement pending measures to the relevant EU Directive, they have made no reference to this equally pending legal obligation on their part. Furthermore, in the light of Mr Caruana’s “Africanisation” remarks, the requirement for a Commission to act as a watchdog against incipient racism is all the more relevant. There is no doubt that Mr Caruana’s remarks caused offence for the nuances he attached to the term he used and local African citizens in Gibraltar were, in our view, naturally aggrieved at what was perceived as a derogatory attitude. GGR will continue to insist upon the EU at its highest administrative and political levels that European law must form a part of our responsibilities in the same way that European rights are conferred and our letter highlights this point.”

“Additionally,” Mr Alvarez continued, “we continue to raise the issue of an unequal age of consent for gay citizens in Gibraltar. That this should continue to be a fact of local law whilst the European Court of Human Rights and the Treaty of Rome on which the EU is founded clearly disapprove of such discrimination and inequality is a measure of how behind the times the political establishment continues to be on issues of human and social rights. Finally, we have asked for feedback from President Barroso regarding the status of a Gibraltarian citizen’s petition to the EU regarding the effect of an air measure which excluded disabled persons from directly accessing airport facilities on an equal basis to similar citizens in other EU territories. Whilst we recognise the Cordoba Agreement may have affected the situation, it is by no means clear to what extent Spain will now lift its vetos on Gibraltar-effective EU air measures. It is for this reason that we have asked for clarification.”
On a parting note, Mr Alvarez revealed that on these and other issues he has been working on ‘for a significant period of time’, it is likely that in the coming months ‘important meetings at very high levels’ may take place to which he will be a party with both UK and EU decision makers in order to mark progress on the human rights front in Gibraltar.”