Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alvarez & GGR lawyer make Commonwealth submissions

In a statement to the media, Equality Rights Group GGR has made known that founder member Felix Alvarez and Counsel for GGR, Hassan’s Barrister John Restano, acting for the Group, have made separate official submissions to the Royal Commonwealth Society regarding its draft Commonwealth Charter.
‘The Charter, building on declarations of Commonwealth values and principles made by Commonwealth Heads of Government since 1970, aims to enshrine a democratic and human rights framework for adoption across all Commonwealth member states. This ‘Magna Carta’, therefore, represents an important point of reference for all Commonwealth nations, amongst which is our country, Gibraltar,’ Mr Alvarez explained. ‘Importantly for Gibraltar, the definition and special needs of ‘small states’ (in particular with regard to the issues related to small Civil Society) are unsatisfactorily reflected in the Draft Charter and my submission brought this to light and agrees with Government’s response to the UK’s recent Survey on relations with its Overseas Territories with regard to the unsatisfactory support received by Gibraltar from the Commonwealth,’ Alvarez added.

‘As a Gibraltar individual citizen with a particular interest in issues of democracy and people’s rights on the Rock, and valuing the role and importance of the Commonwealth for Gibraltar, I felt an obligation to participate in the consultation exercise which the Commonwealth extended to all member State individuals and organizations. Equality Rights Group GGR also independently made a submission through the offices of its Counsel.’

‘While the Charter pronounces itself in high, aspirational terms on some of the best democratic and human rights values, it nonetheless falls short of empowering the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group with explicit and sufficient mechanisms to make the Charter a reality. Furthermore, serious deficits arise through the document’s failure to include the categories of sexual orientation, disability and gender identity within its stated list of anti-discrimination protections,’ Mr Alvarez added.

‘Such serious omissions, at a time when, throughout the Commonwealth, substantial minorities are increasingly calling out to their governments to address their needs, are lamentable and inherently incoherent given the fact that the Charter itself determines, under Article 23, that ‘silence on the part of the Commonwealth is not an option’. Nonetheless, and despite the political realities of the Commonwealth group of nations, it is at least to be hoped the consultation exercise will result in positive amendments to rectify the draft document shortfalls.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Discrimination exists - but we're on track for Equality

In the first of a series of planned public meetings for the gay community, their families and friends, Equality Rights Group GGR has once more openly supported Government in its commitment to legal measures in favour of the gay community.

Speaking at the meeting held last week, Organisation founder, Felix Alvarez, informed the well-attended meeting of consultations which have taken place in respect of the Government’s commitments to civil partnership and hate crime/speech legislation.

'Those measures, along with goods and services provisions, mean that although discrimination to date is still a reality for the gay community, we are, nonetheless on the right track towards Equality,' Mr Alvarez stated.

‘Gays and lesbians in this community alone represent anything between 1,500 to 3,000 citizens - and that's not counting their families and friends. Sufficient numbers for them to insist on their issues being attended to seriously not only as voters and tax payers but also as citizens who deserve respect. It is clear that all present at the recent Meeting held were in full agreement that these three areas of law are felt to represent the core of discrimination that has to be eliminated in order for first class citizenship to start becoming a reality for the gay community. Let there be no doubt from whatever quarter, Parliamentary or otherwise, that the LGBT community is more determined than ever to ensure equality becomes a reality for all – and that includes the disabled and other marginalized sectors. A fair and equal Gibraltar for all is what GGR stands for,’ Mr Alvarez added.

‘The gay community will continue to make its electoral voice known to Parliament, politicians, political parties and the community at large in order to pursue a more equitable, democratic, and human rights conscious community. Discrimination affects not only gay people themselves, but also their families and friends, and GGR is glad to see them all coming together to ensure the necessary changes come about. We have deposited our trust in Government’s commitments and look forward to continuing cooperation and support to this end,’ the statement ended.