Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Government has nothing to trumpet!

Equality Rights Group GGR has today reminded Government and affected citizens that the provisions for combating age and disability discrimination in employment in the Equal Opportunities Ordinance must be put into effect by 2nd December this year, adding that “Government has nothing to trumpet in this respect – the provisions it says it is introducing are, in the context of Gibraltar’s appalling and backward situation regarding the disabled, helpful though severely limited measures they have been forced by the EU to introduce and not as a part of Government initiative or political goodwill.”

“Whilst we welcome the fact that Government has announced the publication of a Bill which will bring the required extensions to the Equal Opportunities Ordinance, citizens in this community should note that , irrespective of whether Government presents the new provisions to the House of Assembly in time or not, both the disabled and those who feel discriminated on the basis of age and in relation to employment should note that as from 2nd December this year, these provisions will be theirs by right. Any person who suffers discrimination on these grounds as of that date will be in a position to sue the Government for damages which may have resulted from non-implementation. GGR encourages individuals to exercise their rightful legal rights, especially in the case where citizens suffer as a result of Government failure to carry out their legal obligations in regard to EU law. GGR will lend support to such persons.”

“At the time when the Equal Opportunities Ordinance was debated in the House of Assembly – now almost 3 years ago – Mr Caruana indicated he intended to bring forward the implementation of these measures, though technically the deadline is reached on 2nd December. It is clear that Mr Caruana has not seen fit to give the matter the importance it deserves and so we are once more, and on a technicality, brought to the brink on these issues. Nonetheless, GGR trusts Government will ensure implementation takes place on time. Furthermore, it is still to be seen whether Government has taken the opportunity with these already-trumpeted provisions to genuinely go beyond the measures provided for by the EU Directive through not only introducing these very limited anti-disability and anti-age measures for the workplace, but to establish a clear, comprehensive and progressive legislative framework, via an Ordinance, which will once and for all bring Gibraltar into line with the rest of Europe with respect to not only general anti-discrimination measures for our citizens, but also specific, binding, and published rates of allowances and social security support for this part of our population. In a normal European setting, and departing from an already decent base of measures (which Gibraltar does not have) to support the disabled, these extra provisions are undoubtedly welcome. Given the appalling state of affairs in Gibraltar, where disability is recognised only when derived from birth and not thereafter, for the Government to trumpet its ‘success’ when merely introducing measures related to employment alone and, furthermore, not as an act of initiative and volition but in response to sheer legal obligation arising from the EU and not from its own policies, it will be obvious to all that any trumpeting of new measures sounds a flat and dischordant note!”

“It is not good enough for people to have to be at the mercy of unknown, ambiguous and hidden behind-the-counter support and benefits, which are difficult to verify and even more difficult to challenge by citizens. It is only when we act in an up-front and right manner towards our most vulnerable that Gibraltar can rest at ease with its conscience as to how we treat our friends and family members who happen to be disabled or of a certain age.”