Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Thursday, April 12, 2007

We challenge Government on housing rights

Equality Rights Group GGR has today issued a press release challenging Government on its housing policy towards same-sex couples.

“Discrimination against sexual minorities comes in many forms in Gibraltar. None is clearer than in the area of housing. Whilst it is our understanding that the Housing Dept justifies a discriminatory policy against joint tenancies between same-sex couples on the basis that priority must be given to ‘families’ in a situation of low housing stock, this is both narrow in its concept of family as being only possible between heterosexuals and irrational. In the first place we ask: in a low housing stock situation, what possible justification can there be for allowing two individuals to occupy places on the waiting list separately for two different housing units when that couple wishes to occupy just one unit in their joint names? In the second place, what right do the authorities have to decide for individual citizens how and with whom they wish to establish a family unit? As an equality rights organisation, we see little logical foundation for these grounds, in addition to the fact that meddling in people’s personal lives adds up to little more than a political stance on the part of Government to deny sexual minority people their rights as citizens of Gibraltar. It is no more and no less than a violation of various provisions in the Gibraltar Constitution and of every European citizen’s right to respect for their privacy and home under the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 8 in conjunction with Article 14. What is more, it affects heterosexual people who decide not to marry in exactly the same way as gay couples. The difference being that they do, in fact, have the option in Gibraltar to marry whereas gays and lesbians cannot enter into civil partnership.”

“In this respect,” the statement continues, “we are committed to ensuring that Government decisions of this sort be tested in the Courts and to the highest level possible. On this issue as well as on any others affecting them, GGR continues to work closely with individuals to ensure that all the resources available in law are committed to the ending of blatant discrimination of this sort. Discrimination which sees housing policy randomly asserted in one area and not another: an example of this is the manner in which the affordable housing schemes have been implemented denying same-sex couples (who are unable to establish formally-recognised relationships in Gibraltar) access to the new schemes, whilst lifting the requirement of marriage for heterosexual unmarried couples. This is not a fault of heterosexual couples but, instead, a clear indication of the gratuitous manner in which sexual minority citizens continue to be treated by Mr Caruana’s Government and we invite the Chief Minister to change not only his housing policy but his attitude in general towards sexual minorities. GGR continues to assert its unremitting work against prejudice and inequality which will continue until such time as Gibraltar becomes a more equal and caring society. Sexual minority citizens, their families, friends and supporters must not forget their realities when it comes to voting at the next Elections.”