GGR welcomes Court action and Council of Europe decision
Equality Rights Group GGR has welcomed the start of a hearing in the local courts today of a complaint by a lesbian couple against the Gibraltar Housing Department. (Photo by courtesy J. Bugeja, Gibraltar Chronicle).
“It is a measure of GGR’s commitment to reasoned change through our democratic institutions that not only have we worked – and will continue to do so – for legal and responsible change to come about through parliamentary and judicial routes in our community, but we will not cease from insisting on it,” Chairman Felix Alvarez said today.
“It is ridiculous and backward in this day and age in a situation of housing shortage that two people in a committed relationship should be required by government to apply for and obtain two separate housing units when they, in fact, wish nothing more than to live together. The only reason why the Housing Dept are refusing to accept to place one of the partners as a joint tenant is the fact that they are lesbian.
“Nowhere is the ridiculous nature of discrimination and prejudice more clear than in this case. It’s time government became reasonable, stop being on the defensive, and help create an atmosphere of responsible dialogue in order to lead to what the majority of people in Gibraltar consider today to be fair and reasonable treatment of sexual minority fellow citizens.
“As Chairman of GGR I have said it so many times that I have lost track. But I will not tire from repeating it: I am willing to sit around the table with government in a spirit of reasonable understanding.”
At the same time, Mr Alvarez took the opportunity to comment on the recent statement issued by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers regarding GGR’s complaint on age of consent legislation in Gibraltar.
“Statements from the Committee of Ministers are only published after consensus has been reached. The fact that the Committee clearly signalled that a change in the age of consent in Gibraltar must be effected in the ‘near future’ in order to make equality in consent between gays and heterosexuals a reality, is significant and welcome. It signals the UK’s clear endorsement.
“GGR is confident of information it has received that meetings between government and Foreign & Commonwealth Office officials have been taking place in order to reach agreement about the manner and timing of these changes. GGR clearly welcomes developments on this front and looks forward to further announcements. We shall, nonetheless, be keeping a vigilant eye on progress on this matter,” the statement ended.