Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We call for Holocaust Memorial Day to be commemorated in Gibraltar

Equality Rights Group GGR has today once more called for Gibraltar to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, which was celebrated across Europe on Sunday.

“It’s about time Gibraltar also commemorated this day, along with the rest of Europe,” Chairman Felix Alvarez (left) said.

“The hatred and discrimination which led to the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. It is an important commitment to the value of humanity that annual commemoration should take place around that historic tragedy.

“As a group, GGR has on many occasions made this call. We will continue to do so and once more ask all sectors of this community to unite in commemorating the importance of fundamental human values in a specific annual event which can only enrich our community in tolerance and understanding,” Mr Alvarez ended.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chief Minister's arguments come tumbling down

Equality Rights Group GGR has today welcomed a ruling this Tuesday from the European Court of Human Rights confirming that excluding prospective same-sex adoptive parents from equal consideration is a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

“Family is not the exclusive monopoly of any sexual orientation category. It forms part of every human being’s desire for belonging and caring. This ruling from the highest Human Rights court in Europe emphasises that sexual orientation cannot be the basis for denying access to adoption anywhere within Europe. This includes Gibraltar.

“In adoption, the central concern must be the child, and the provision of a stable, loving family environment for him or her. This cannot be determined on sexual orientation grounds alone.

“The empty “traditional family values” argument that Mr Caruana is trying to use to boost his failing electoral support, lacks logical, judicial and moral support throughout Europe and in international law. The Chief Minister’s attempt to monopolise the Family for his own ends has just come tumbling down.

“GGR has but one message for Mr Caruana and his fundamentalist friends: gay people exist – get used to it! There is no room for the inhuman politics of narrow-mindedness, exclusion and extremism in a modern Europe,” the statement ended.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We welcome plans for a Sex Offenders Register

Reacting to news that Government intends to introduce comprehensive changes to criminal law provisions in Gibraltar, Equality Rights Group GGR has today thanked “the three-thousand-plus civic-minded individuals across our community who supported and signed our Petition in favour of the introduction of a Sex Offenders Register in order to protect minors from adult sex abuse.

“Even if Government has dragged its feet in finally and under pressure proposing this important change, it will, however, be gratefully received by this community and will bring peace of mind to the many people who continue to express their concerns to GGR on this matter,” Chairman Felix Alvarez stated.

“Whilst at this stage, details of the proposed change are necessarily very limited, this Group welcomes Government’s stated intention and highlights the importance of a broad range of coordinated resources for a Register system to function. We will, however, provide proper comment and analysis upon eventual publication of the final law text to which we look forward.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Council of Europe publishes Gib discrimination issue

Following an announcement from Equality Rights Group GGR last week, the official website of the Council of Europe (http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc08/EDOC11485.htm) has now officially published a question tabling issues of sexual offences discrimination in Gibraltar. A brief communiqué from the Group states as follows:

“Question no. 539 to the Committee of Ministers reads as follows:

“To request the United Kingdom Government to:

- comply with its obligation under the Convention in respect of Gibraltar;
- set out the actions it will now take to ensure such compliance through the elimination of all aspects of the Gibraltar Criminal Offences Act 1960 that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Chairman Felix Alvarez stated that “Outdated sexual offences affecting not only gay men but also heterosexual people in Gibraltar and some of them dating back to the times of Henry VIII contravene aspects of the European Convention of Human Rights. Campaigning to advance the individual human rights of all our people will continue to be a top priority for GGR. We look forward to Chief Minister Peter Caruana responding directly before the UK in order to answer the case before the Council of Europe regarding his non-compliance with international law."

“This latest move," he added, is in addition to a report which GGR has placed before a Parliamentary Select Committee at the House of Commons investigating, amongst other things, issues of human rights in the Overseas Territories.”

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."