Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Anti-gay violence and suicide in Gibraltar 'is beginning to worry'

The group welcomes Bayside anti-bullying initiative

"Bullying, self-harm and gay suicide are underscored by systems of unequal institutional treatment"

Equality Rights Group GGR has applauded the initiative of Bayside School in acknowledging ‘the very real problem of bullying in schools." They similarly take the opportunity to congratulate the work of DAWN in tackling issues of bullying in the workplace. "Both these initiatives can help to return self-esteem to victims and contribute to overcoming the problem."

"With respect to the School, the measures being taken are significant not only because they are backed up by practical measures to alert and act against bullying and thus protect pupils, but for what they also imply: acknowledgment and, by extension, sensitisation of teaching staff to the issues involved. Confronting the issues are the important first steps towards dealing with the problem."

"The issue of homophobic bullying at school is an increasingly real one. Not too long ago, local young gay people at school spoke openly in the Gibraltar press about their experiences in this regard. Equality Rights Group GGR continues to hear of incidents of this nature, and we very much trust that Bayside and other schools will develop their initiative to take into account the many forms that bullying takes in our school system."
"In this particular context, measures recently developed and introduced by the Leicestershire County Council in the UK are of particular note, and we would hope the Education Department in Gibraltar will introduce similar measures for advice, information and support.

"On a wider consideration, GGR views with particular concern the growing level of homophobic attacks in the community. These range from attacking gay-identified premises to harassment and physical violence against openly gay people in this community. Whilst these are issues which are rarely reported or attended to in a public manner in Gibraltar, GGR is keeping tabs on the situation in order to raise it with police and other authorities on the Rock. Let noone think, however, that because these incidents of intolerance do not receive public attention that they do not exist in our community. They most certainly do.
"What we cannot have are situations, as has indeed occurred over the past year or so, where a gay person has been repeatedly subjected to insults, harassment and physical violence to such an extent that they were driven to multiple suicide attempts.

"This ugly face of homophobia in our community, underscored by institutional inequality, is a reality that cannot and must not be hidden from public view or scrutiny. This is not a numbers game. Even if it only happens to one or two people it is, in our view, one or two people far too many. UK statistics suggest that up to 41% of gay peoples are subjected to physical violence at school. There is no reason why Gibraltar cannot learn from such developments elsewhere so we are not condemned to repeat the same errors.

"GGR is certain that the majority of people in Gibraltar disapprove and repudiate such treatment, but the reality is one which the police and other responsible authorities must now address with greater vigour and determination than ever before. To this end, Equality Rights Group GGR will be raising the issue directly with the Commissioner of Police."