Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Monday, October 22, 2007

GGR and Cashman re-confirm Brown to look into age of consent issue

GGR confident no objective criterion for inequality in consent

In a brief press release today, Equality Rights Group GGR has welcomed further confirmation from Michael Cashman MEP that he did raise the question of age of consent with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as reported earlier by the group.

Chairman Felix Alvarez has welcomed the further direct clarification and, in particular, Mr Cashman’s assertion that the Prime Minister is taking direct action by looking into this matter.

“Given that Government has stated that this move by the Prime Minister is perfectly proper, it would appear that there is little to disagree about between us,” Mr Alvarez added.

“GGR continues to be confident that there is no reasonable and justifiable objective criterion for the continuation of inequality in the age of consent and looks forward to Government’s introduction of equalisation legislation.”

Meanwhile, the Office of Michael Cashman released the following statement:

Michael Cashman, MEP for West Midlands, recently elected MEP of the Year for Fundamental Rights and Justice, has confirmed details of his brief meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in which he raised the issue of the unequal age of consent in Gibraltar.

Michael highlighted that the fact Gibraltar maintained a different age of consent for same-sex sexual relations (18) as opposed to 16 for heterosexual relations was likely to be incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court has on several occasions ruled against Member States who maintained such unequal age of consent as being in violation of the European convention.

"I unequivocally can confirm that I raised this with the Prime Minister and he said he would look into the matter, especially in relation to the European Convention of Human Rights."
Michael has reiterated his call that Gibraltar does what it can to review the existing law. He welcomed the Government's statement in which it would announce a decision on this matter following a study as to whether they found the law to be justifiable under objective and reasonable criteria. "I, for one, can think of no such arguments that would allow this unequal age of consent to remain," Michael added.