Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Age of Consent court case: Caruana would do the same as the UK in their shoes

  • Alvarez accuses Caruana of a homophobic crusade ‘at tax payers’ expense’
Responding to news that the British government has filed to intervene in the upcoming Supreme Court hearing on the age of consent issue, Felix Alvarez, Equality Rights Group Chairman, has welcomed the fact that “the UK, the party responsible for this matter under international law, has once more made its position clear regarding the legal obligation for the age of consent to be equalised.
Mr Alvarez further stated that “Mr Caruana would do exactly the same as the UK is doing were he in their shoes. Perhaps he hasn’t yet understood that the British government is under an inescapable legal obligation under the European Convention of Human Rights to ensure there is no inequality in this law in Gibraltar. Indeed, two years ago, HMG was given notice by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (the highest sanctioning body in that organisation) to ensure this came about.
“Almost a year ago I publicly warned that the path the Chief Minister was treading could provoke a confrontation between Gibraltar and Britain on this matter, a situation which would be of great disservice to Gibraltarians.
“Nonetheless”, Mr Alvarez continued, “Mr Caruana did not present a Bill guaranteeing equalisation would take place. Instead, he used the delaying tactic of a free vote, risking an uncertain outcome, thus ignoring the legally binding nature of the requirement.

“For a Chief Minister of Gibraltar to place the whole community so close to direct intervention by the UK, and despite his much-touted new Constitution, is irresponsible to say the least. One can only conclude that Mr Caruana cares very little for the wider interests of Gibraltar in its UK relationship when it comes to promoting his on-going crusade at tax payers’ expense against the Gibraltar gay community in pursuing what is a sectarian homophobic agenda. Gibraltar is for all – and the Chief Minister must look after the interests of all its citizens, without exclusion,” Mr Alvarez ended.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We welcome age of consent change in Guernsey

Following the recent passing of a law equalising the age of consent in Guernsey – a UK dependent territory – Equality Rights Group GGR has welcomed the news.

“This is one further example – closer to home – of the increasingly unacceptable injustice which is enshrined in any unequal age of consent law. Guernsey, like the UK, has opted for a consent age of 16. The arguments whether medical, psychological, social or justice-wise seem to hold water not only at UK level, but indeed across the majority of European states.
“GGR itself has never advocated any particular age level for consent, but instead has insisted over the past 9 years since it started to campaign on the issue, that equality is the fundamental point at heart. We continue highlighting that inequalities between citizens breach not only common-sense and fundamental democratic norms, but indeed only serve to create an atmosphere of social division, not cohesion.
“GGR looks forward to the rectification of Gibraltar law through the democratic mechanism of parliamentary change.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Government finally equalises housing policy

We will continue working for Equality - whether Gibraltar's Chief Minister likes it or not!

Equality Rights Group GGR Chairman, Felix Alvarez (pictured left) has acknowledged Government’s announcement that it has changed its policy in housing allocation to recognise the right of a lesbian couple to joint tenancy of a government flat. This follows the decision of the Privy Council, the UK’s highest court, that discrimination against same-sex couples in housing issues by the Government of Gibraltar was illegal.

“There was never any sense or benefit,” said Mr Alvarez, “to anyone in insisting that a same-sex couple should not be able to live together, and that, instead, they would be granted two separate housing units instead of one!” Mr Alvarez stated. “This change benefits everyone who is looking for government housing in Gibraltar in a situation of housing stock shortage.”
“Furthermore, what a dreadful waste of tax payers’ money this stubborn and behind-the-times attitude of Mr Caruana’s has turned out to be!” indicated Mr Alvarez. “Let us hope the Chief Minister has learnt his lesson in modern equality law on this occasion and does not subject the public to a similar waste of money on the pending claim regarding equalisation of the age of consent in Gibraltar. Certainly, GGR will continue to press for equality in this area of law, as well.”
“On the housing issue, whilst it has taken several months since the Court decision for Mr Caruana to finally make public this change in policy in compliance with a legal requirement, there was never any doubt whatsoever that it would have to come about. Same-sex couples today needing government housing now clearly know they will need to be treated on equal terms with other citizens.
“It is a matter of regret, however, that so much public money had to be wasted in pursuing a claim that was evidently going to fail – not only because of legalities, but also because public opinion has shifted not only Europe-wide on many of these issues, but in Gibraltar itself. People today just do not see discrimination in this field as fair or correct any more. We are confident that full equality for gay people is just round the corner, and GGR will continue working for it, whether Mr Caruana likes it or not.”