Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

GGR walks out on meeting with Police Commissioner

“How many people must get hurt before the Commissioner acknowledges the problem of homophobic violence?”

Commissioner's main response before the facts was “no” says the group

Equality Rights Group GGR in a press statement today, has lamented that following a meeting with the Commissioner of Police last Tuesday, at which the Chairman and Secretary of the group put before Mr Wink concerns over what GGR says is a slow trend of increasing homophobic violence and harassment at times leading to attempted suicide, the Commissioner refused to acknowledge the situation.

“This flies in the face of the worrying facts, even though the numbers in a small community such as ours are currently small. The point is that positively tackling the issue now may help to break the trend and avoid future aggression. How many people need to be hurt before the Commissioner will convey the message that homophobic attacks are just downright unacceptable and criminal?

“We are saddened by this attitude, since GGR has had a cordial relationship of cooperation and exchange of views over the past seven years with the previous Commissioner and the RGP as a whole,” Mr Alvarez added. “Our disagreement with the Commissioner in no way diminishes our respect for or appreciation of the Force as a whole.

“Nonetheless, our aim, throughout, has been to foster understanding at the highest levels of the RGP in order to assist and contribute towards a reality of best practice policing in our community. This has extended to the development by the group of a training programme on police issues regarding the gay community which we have conducted at the police’s behest and from which enthusiastic and positive feedback has been received.

“The Commissioner should play an important part in projecting determination to policing this community fairly and effectively in respect of all sectors. Whilst we understand that as head of police he has an obligation to robustly act against crime of any sort, it is, in our view, neither sensible nor wise to bury his head in the sand and deny the rise locally of homophobic violence.

“We were surprised by the Commissioner’s stonewalling and complete unwillingness to even explore positive ways forward. The Commissioner’s main response was “no”. This is a notable change of attitude following the Government’s introduction of the Police Act 2006.

“The proactive protection of sexual minority citizens in Gibraltar is too basic a police function for GGR merely to smile and move on to the next agenda item.

“The incidence of homophobic violence in Gibraltar though presently low is nonetheless very serious. It is, however, on the increase. We will not stand idly by and watch anti-gay attacks increase whilst the Commissioner thinks about it. He is the man responsible and it is he who must answer.

“To that extent, as Chairman of GGR I will return to the table with Commissioner Wink any time he sees fit on the basis that he has something positive to say about his plans for protecting the gay community but not before.”