Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gib Govt taken to Council of Europe for LGBT discrimination

“Caruana’s asphyxiating ‘doctrinally correct’ personal crusade is harming Gib in the UK, in Europe and within the GSD” says the group

Equality Rights Group GGR has taken the issues of Gibraltar’s unequal age of consent and discriminatory sexual offences legislation to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This is the highest possible level of the European body responsible for overseeing Human Rights.

In his comments, Chairman Felix Alvarez (pictured) explained that the question which has been tabled directs itself to the United Kingdom’s responsibility regarding the Gibraltar Government’s failure to respect human rights standards not only in regard of unequal age of consent but across criminal offences such as 'buggery' and 'gross indecency; which exclusively criminalise gay men.

“The question has been tabled by Lib-Dem MP Mike Hancock, and places British Prime Minister Gordon Brown under additional pressure to ensure the Gibraltar government complies with international law requirements. It is now seven and a half years since the European Court ruled that age of consent inequality is in violation of the Convention. Compliance is normally required within a maximum 3 to 4 years.

“This regrettable situation,” he adds, “flies in the face of the Chief Minister’s new year claim that he will ensure ‘every’ citizen’s human rights. The facts tell a very different story and certainly the tabling of this issue at such a high level would not have been possible if the Chief Minister’s words had a grain of truth in them. There would simply be no basis for it. This is evidently one more “New Year Massage” that Gibraltar has once again been subjected to by Mr Caruana. And it is regrettable because the Chief Minister’s asphyxiating personal crusade against diversity and tolerance across this whole community is harming Gibraltar in the UK, in Europe and within his own party, the GSD.

“The historically kind and tolerant traditions of Gibraltar and Gibraltarians must be safeguarded against Mr Caruana’s frustrated impositions of failed puritanical ideologies masquerading as “traditional family values”, Mr Alvarez added.

“We must all be wary of politicians who manipulate sentiment in this manner so as to bolster their failing electoral support. Family is valued by all human beings, but cheap populism has historically exploited the ‘family values’ argument to justify repressive policies on issues as diverse as interracial marriage, slavery and women’s rights and have been at the root of much incitement to hatred in the past. GGR will continue independently to resist all such pressures, while continuing to work to ensure that the real and legally recognised human rights of every citizen are truly respected and upheld despite every possible political and technical obstacle being placed by the Chief Minister. Under the rule of law, that work, as indeed that of Justice in general, can only be trusted to independent democratic institutions and human rights organisations and not to the Chief Minister."