Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Discrimination by some businesses must stop!

The group says ‘Business must project a more positive image - and we are keen to work closely with them to this end'

‘We are concerned to be receiving more and more reports about humiliating and discriminatory treatment of gay people by some Gibraltar businesses,’ a statement from Equality Rights group has today expressed.

‘This is by no means the first time we have received such reports. But it is the growing trend which is sounding alarms. As an organisation, it is often difficult for us to verify the circumstances provided to us, yet the consistency of the details and specific locations involved are beginning to add up,' Chairman Felix Alvarez added.

‘Equality Rights group is hopeful that Government will be introducing legislation soon to outlaw the denial of goods and services to anyone on the basis of particular categories – whether sexual orientation, race, disability or any other grounds.

‘If the reports we have been receiving are correct – and the volume and consistency over time are leading us in that direction – then we must begin to be conscious of a growing problem. As more and more gay people not only demand but also expect equal treatment, the trend is almost inevitable and we must have provisions in place to halt it.

‘It is a well-known fact that LGBT citizens have a higher-than-average disposable income. In a competitive environment, it makes little business sense to reject rather than court local consumer sectors. The only effect otherwise is to drive them over the border. While GGR does not presently support the call to boycott certain local businesses that may be implicated, we do call on fairness and reason to be the guiding principles when businesses deal with customers (regardless of their social category). They are, after all, customers first and foremost. It is important to avert repetitions and further escalation in this situation.

‘Nonetheless, while unseemly sexual or other behaviour from any individual in a public place is unacceptable, common shows of human affection (a kiss, hug, holding of hands or dancing together) should not be grounds for drastic and humiliating action against a client. They’re not for heterosexuals – why should they constitute grounds for humiliation or throwing out of gay people?

‘If any business considers that such ordinary human affection and gestures in any way violates their ‘family’ business plan focus, we would remind them that LGBT people were born in families, are part of families, and also create families. And GGR - which includes both gay and straight supporters - will not accept homophobic policies from any quarter.

‘GGR is, nonetheless, certain that Gibraltar businesses are, in the main, sensible and protect their customers’ interests because, in the long haul, they are also the interests of the businesses themselves,' Mr Alvarez said. 'It is also good to see some companies supporting and investing in the Community in which they are rooted. Business must project a more positive image - and as Chairman of GGR, I am always keen to discuss issues and work closely with them to this end.'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Alvarez: 'We trust we have closure on Age of Consent now'

'Equality is a long road, GGR knows this and has the stamina to continue working to achieve more for our citizens'

Commenting on the recent statement by the Minister for Justice in Parliament regarding the age of sexual consent, Equality Rights group (GGR) Chairman, Felix Alvarez, has welcomed what he says he trusts is ‘closure on the political and legal process in this following the formal announcement that the age is to be set at 16.’

‘While we always respected the right of the community at large to decide on the specific applicable age, GGR started the campaign to achieve a sexual-orientation neutral legal age of consent from its very first day. In September 2000, when we launched and issued our first press release, one of the top demands was an equal consent age. Today, after 12 years of campaigning, and almost a year after the Supreme Court declared inequality in this area of law to be unconstitutional, the political process may finally have come to rest.

‘We must now await details of the manner in which this announcement will be implemented and come into effect through unequivocal parliamentary and legislative provision.

‘So why did we identify this issue as being so important from day one?’, Mr Alvarez continued.

‘Because a) we realised it might take time to achieve, but that it was achievable, b) we realised that laying down this foundation was a very visible and clear corner stone not only for transmitting the message of equality but also for fostering open dialogue throughout Gibraltar society, c) the process of achieving equalisation in this would spur modernisation of Gibraltar in the field of human and civil rights generally, and d) gay people deserved better. In a situation where young people feel the pressure of inequality at a seminal moment in their physical and psychological development, sending out a signal of acceptance can only be a good thing.

‘GGR welcomes Minister Licudi's annnouncement. And we thank government for its commitment to equality. But we also thank all citizens (gay and straight), who by actively participating over the years in arguing for equality, have played a crucial part in making this possible.

'Equality is a long road. GGR knows this, and has the stamina to continue working to achieve more for our citizens,' Alvarez ended.