Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Government has no right to spy on gay or heterosexual bedrooms!

In what is being seen as a widening of its campaign, Equality Rights Group Chairman Felix Alvarez (photo left) has today informed the press of the group’s determination to "eradicate outdated, discriminatory and unjustifiable intrusion of Government into citizens’ private lives.

"Seven years ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the existence of criminal offences determined on sexual orientation to be in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. As Chairman of GGR I have been patiently awaiting Government’s awakening to the fact that the citizens of Gibraltar have just as much right to freedom in their private lives within the law as in any other European State. However, it is clear to us that Government will only move in the direction of progressive change under the threat of legal sanction," Mr Alvarez stated.

"Consequently, I have written to the Chief Minister, the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police, on this matter. Seven years after judgment from the European Court is more than ample time for compliance to have come about. I am determined that it should come about now and will be taking measured but appropriate steps in this regard at British, European and international levels as I have done on the issue of age of consent.
"I am therefore inviting the Chief Minister, as part of his necessary review of age of consent legislation in Gibraltar following recent statements from the British Prime Minister, to take this opportunity to address the comprehensive issue of outdated sexual offences in current Gibraltar law in order to modernise them in line with the UK’s Sexual Offences Act 2003.

"To give an example of what we are talking about, ironically, whilst anal intercourse between males over the age of 18 is currently legal in Gibraltar, anal intercourse in heterosexual relations is criminalized. Similarly, whilst consenting heterosexual sex between more than two persons is not illegal, the same practice between consenting homosexuals continues to be criminal. Were it not for the fact that these provisions imply the right of Government to enter our bedrooms and dictate what consenting private sex lives we may or may not engage in, the absurdity of keeping offences dating back to the times of Henry VIII ("buggery") or which were responsible for the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde ("gross indecency") would be laughable. Let us be quite clear: noone is calling for modernisation provisions to oblige anyone to enter into any acts – but those who do consent and are above legal age should not have Government spying in their gay or heterosexual bedrooms and telling them what to do. That is an area that is purely personal. It is citizens’ right to personal privacy that is at stake here.

"As Chairman of GGR, I urge Government to address these issues and as a matter of course reiterate my willingness to dialogue in the interests of progress on these matters," the statement ended.