Also see: Gibraltar Gay Rights organization
Gibraltar Tourism Minister Quizzed on Gay Reform: Joe Holliday probed at London launch of Gibraltar’s new tourism drive.
The Gibraltar Tourism Minister, Joe Holliday, was tackled over Gibraltar’s lack of progress on ending anti-gay discrimination when he launched Gibraltar’s new tourism initiative – The New Face of Gibraltar – at the World Travel Market at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in London today.
Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay rights group OutRage! said he had a "friendly and constructive" conversation with the Mr Holliday at the Gibraltar exhibition stand, and had urged the Minister to use his influence to ensure "the swift repeal of Gibraltar’s discriminatory anti-gay laws".
"Gibraltar’s refusal to support legal equality for lesbians and gay men is not only a violation of human rights, it is also bad for business", Mr Tatchell told the Tourism Minister.
"The place has a poor reputation on gay issues. Many tourists are put off by Gibraltar’s intolerant laws. They go instead to destinations where there is a more liberal-minded and welcoming attitude. The government’s policy is losing Gibraltar tourism income".
"I told Mr Holliday that it is foolish to alienate lesbian and gay tourists. They represent a very lucrative market. Compared to the general population, gay people tend to be better educated and better paid. Because most don’t have children, they have higher than average disposable incomes. They take more holidays and spend more per capita on travel."
"If Gibraltar got rid of its homophobic laws, gay people would find the place a much more attractive destination".
"Mr Holliday expressed surprise when I explained that the homophobic laws imposed on Gibraltar by Britain during the colonial era were still on the statute book", said Mr Tatchell. "He was shocked that the buggery law dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII, and that the gross indecency law originates from the time of Oscar Wilde".
"Britain introduced this discriminatory legislation, but it is Gibraltar’s responsibility to repeal it".
"Discrimination against lesbians and gay men in Gibraltar is some of the worst in Europe. While other European countries are rapidly repealing their anti-gay laws, there are no signs of any reform in Gibraltar".
"At the very minimum, Gibraltar should equalise the age of consent at 16, outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and give legal rights to same-sex couples", said Peter Tatchell.
Further Information: Peter Tatchell +44 (0)20-7403 1790
Interview with Félix Álvarez. Presidente de la Gibraltar associación de gays y lesbianas (in Spanish)
Félix Álvarez es el presidente de la asociación pro derecho de los gays y lesbianas de Gibraltar. Lingüista de profesión y con un largo periodo de tiempo alejado de la colonia británica, fundó en el año 2000 esta asociación, a pesar de que sabía que profesionalmente se le cerrarían muchas puertas. Álvarez no sólo actúa en el Peñón sino que promueve una plataforma comarcal para su colectivo
" Los homosexuales empiezan a tener derechos, pero limitados"
by Maria Luisa Benitez
Félix Alvarez es el presidente del colectivo de gays y lesbianas de Gibraltar, el GGR. Su intención es promover la igualdad de este sector a todos los niveles por lo que también ha comenzado una plataforma a nivel comarcal para cubrir el ‘vacío’ que hay en la zona para los homosexuales. También demostró su satisfacción porque después de cuatro años de lucha, el Gobierno de Peter Caruana haya reconocido sus derechos como asociación aunque, según éste, aún queda mucho por lo que luchar.
¿ Cómo, cuándo y por qué empezó esta asociación?
Empezó en septiembre del año 2000, y como en muchos temas empezó motivado por motivos personales. Yo tenía pareja, él estaba trabajando en el extranjero, yo aunque nacido en el Peñón estudié y trabajé fuera y decidimos dejar nuestros respectivos trabajos y regresar a mi pueblo, y ahí empezaron los problemas.
¿ A qué problemas se refiere concretamente?
Bueno, me gasté millones en poder traerlo tanto por Gibraltar como por España, pero me encontré con problemas a nivel político, la burocracia, porque todavía no se reconocen los vínculos afectivos entre dos personas del mismo género, porque no se reconoce el matrimonio entre dos personas del mismo género. Y por ello comencé una lucha que duró cuatro años, acudiendo a las autoridades gibraltareñas, españolas y del Reino Unido, me di cuenta que había un problema, que lo que me sucedía a mí les podía suceder a otros, que con el miedo no se va a ningún lado y formé la asociación.
¿ Cuántos socios tenéis en este momento?
Ochocientos cincuenta socios, aunque esto no significa que todos los socios estén implicados directamente día a día. El ejecutivo lo formamos 10 personas de los que yo soy el presidente. Te tengo que decir que cuando se formó esta asociación sólo estaba yo, no había nadie, le eché valor y poco a poco, con publicidad y los medios de comunicación, la gente empezó a responder y se crearon los estatutos y empezó el movimiento gay en Gibraltar.
¿ Cuáles son vuestras reivindicaciones en Gibraltar?
Las mismas que existen en el resto de Europa. El reconocimiento del estatus civil de las parejas gays y todo lo que eso conlleva: las pensiones, el acceso a la vivienda pública, que se equiparen las leyes gibraltareñas para aceptar la orientación sexual de cada cual, aunque sobre eso ya hemos conseguido algo en febrero de este año.
Antes las leyes británicas no toleraban la homosexualidad. ¿Cuándo acabó todo?
En Inglaterra se despenalizó en 1969. Al igual que en el resto de Europa, el movimiento homosexual empezó a impulsarse a partir de los años cincuenta.
¿ Y en Gibraltar?
El tema de la legislación gibraltareña, te explico, no necesariamente es la misma que la del Reino Unido. Aunque las tradiciones jurídicas y políticas estén basadas en las del Reino Unido, la verdad es que desde que se estableció el Parlamento gibraltareño, cuando se aprobó la Constitución de Gibraltar, dicho Parlamento acepta modificaciones que se hagan en el Reino Unido o no y desarrollan sus propias leyes. Hasta ahora hemos conseguido que el Parlamento reconozca en febrero a la orientación sexual en un término jurídico. Al menos nos otorgan ciertos derechos, que son limitados pero es un primer paso.
En definitiva, ¿cuál es vuestra pretensión en el Peñón?
Que se modernicen las leyes, erradicar las leyes antiguas que aún están ahí.
¿ Existe homofobia en el Peñón?
No, no creo que en una población tan pequeña como Gibraltar existan grandes problemas de homofobia. Lo que existe es una homofobia a nivel institucional, es decir, que no se reconoce el derecho de las personas a existir por su condición sexual y eso se ve reflejado en la leyes. Yo soy de los que piensan que hasta que el propio gobierno de un pueblo no respete a sus ciudadanos, difícilmente lo van a respetar los ciudadanos. Le doy mucha importancia a que se trabaje a nivel político y jurídico para que se cambien esas realidades y se cambien las leyes, y trabajar para concienciar al ciudadano de a pie para que se vaya educando en el tema de la tolerancia.
¿ Váis a pedir como grupo el voto para alguna formación política para las europarlamentarias?
No estamos implicados en ese proceso. Este año estamos involucrados en buscar más recursos para la gente y también en la comarca porque me duele el vacío que existe en el campo de Gibraltar sobre nuestra reivindicación.
November 24, 2004 – Gibraltar News
Gibraltar Gay Rights–Press Release: New Constitution Gravely Deficient
In a statement today, Equality Rights organisation GGR has said that whilst it has always fully supported and will continue to support the fundamental right of Gibraltarians to determine their own social and political future, it considers the text for proposed Constitutional reform for Gibraltar to be “gravely deficient” and, as such, in the same manner that, as Gibraltarians we refuse to agree to measures which ignore our rights, GGR will not subscribe to the text of the proposed new Constitution for similar reasons, and we have made our views known to the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
GGR feels that it would be hypocritical for us as an Equality Rights organisation to stand silent and unprotesting as the systematic exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the proposed new Constitution takes place and for precisely the reason that they, too, are Gibraltarian! We will play no part in such an injustice and for this reason wish to make this a matter of public record for Gibraltar´s history books in order that “lest they forget” future generations of Gibraltarians may learn the full truth of what happened in this process.
“ Although we fully understand the various arguments regarding political expediency on the matter, we will not collude with the quiet and systematic exclusion of the rights of Gibraltarian citizens of diverse sexuality from exercising an equality of citizenship which should be theirs by birthright and which the new Constitution proposes to deliberately and intentionally deny,” the statement added
“ One thing is for the present Constitution, written over three decades ago, to have established such an order, but quite another is that a future democracy should perpetuate it. We will not defend the indefensible by supporting both a document and a process which go out of their way to exclude minority citizens from first class citizenship.
"From the very beginning, we have made it very clear that what we´re asking for on behalf of alternative sexuality people in Gibraltar is neither more nor less rights than any other citizen would expect for themselves. It is the dignity of all Gibraltarians which is on the table and at stake at this point in time with regard to any new Constitution and, as Gibraltarians, this dignity is a paramount and vital component of Constitutional Reform. However, contrary to what the new Constitution text specifically sets out to do, we see no justifiable reason for renouncing that on behalf of gay and lesbian people on the Rock and equality-seeking politicians, political parties, local associations and individuals of conscience who disagree with Government´s position on this issue should say so now and say so publicly for the record, just as GGR is doing. We believe it is important to learn from History, and this is a matter of historical and social conscience and we ask you not to collude with silence but to make your voices heard publicly now!”
"In February 2001 Chairman Felix Alvarez made a submission to the Constitutional Reform Committee arguing for the category “sexual orientation” to be added to the new document. It is our understanding that whilst the Constitutional Reform Committee overruled Mr Alvarez, this was done on a substantially less than unanimous basis. There is a long parliamentary tradition of allowing free voting on matters of this nature and we are not confident that use was not made of a majority whip on this occasion. Such a forced vote, in our view, would not reflect the true feeling of our community on issues as basic as equality and non-discrimination. This is particularly so on a matter as historically significant as the agreement over a new Constitution setting forth fundamental principles and rights of citizenship for future generations of Gibraltarians. In short, as GGR´s slogan says on this: “New Constitution? YES! Only for some? NO!”
Gibraltar Gay Rights organization not satisfied with Gibralter Equal Opportunities Ordinance
“ We are not satisfied that the language of the Ordinance meets the requirements of the EU Directive. For this reason and ever since its introduction, we have been busy scrutinising and assessing the precise wording of the Gibraltar law to evaluate whether, indeed, it satisfies the terms of the EU’s legislation. We have worked closely with experts in the field and are pleased that the UK Chapter of the EU’s publication of a “Report of the European Group of Experts on Combating Sexual Orientation Discrimination” incorporates an analysis of where the Gibraltar law is deficient.
Felix Alvarez, Chairman, commented that “There are, in fact, six separate areas of interest in the Gibraltar law which are outlined by the Group of Experts as requiring amendment in order to satisfy the EU. I have sent a full copy of the recommendations for change to the Chief Minister for his information, and similarly have written directly to the European Commission on the matter. I shall be following through on these implications for change both locally and at European level. The points, whilst mostly technical in nature, are important inasmuch as it is often the detail which plays out in an important way when citizens take up their rights through the Courts.”
“ Once more, “ Alvarez finally added, “it is important to remind all working people that there is now a law in place in Gibraltar which makes it illegal to discriminate against people on several grounds – including sexual orientation. If you are facing discrimination-related problems at work you should take up your rights. You will find that GGR will be more than happy to assist you.”
Reform not possible without rights progress
Equality Rights organisation Gibraltar Gay Rights (GGR) has published the full text of a parliamentary question recently put to Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane in the House of Commons regarding sexual orientation human rights in Gibraltar by Conservative MP Alan Duncan, who is also Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. We do so by way of highlighting the British Government’s thinking on the issue of Constitutional Reform. And as an organisation GGR has to say: there can be no reform of the Consitution which does not address the issue of human rights in a substantial and honest way, a spokesperson stated.
In fact, GGR is pleased at the level of concern and understanding being expressed by Westminster politicians in general and by Her Majesty’s Government in particular, and it is especially noteworthy and instructive that Minister MacShane answers a fairly general question with a very specific response regarding the manner in which the British Government foresees change within a prospective new Constitution for Gibraltar. In fact, Mr MacShane’s response centres on the Constitutional aspect and GGR is pleased to note the manner in which its lobbying on the matter has taken root.
The communiqué further adds that judging from the Parliamentary statement by the Minister “HMG is very clear on this matter: as the party responsible for Gibraltar’s compliance under both European Union and European Convention law, the British Government (to use their own parliamentary words) “wish to ensure that Gibraltar’s Constitution is in line” with these responsibilities. Additionally, GGR is gratified by the fact that the Minister in Parliament has taken the opportunity to reiterate HMG’s advice to the Gibraltar Government to equalise its Age of Consent legislation. All of these are heartening and clear indications of commitment to progress on matters for which GGR has been steadily campaigning.
In a few words: the Gibraltar Government is under notice from both the British Government’s and the European Court of Human Rights to equalise its Age of Consent legislation. GGR looks forward to widening our current official but limited dialogue and cooperation with the Gibraltar Government to include this and any other issues so as to seek social progress. Our readiness to talk will be accompanied by an equal readiness to listen. Sentiments which we trust will be duly and similarly reciprocated by the Gibraltar Government, the Statement ended.
29th January 2007 – PinkNews.co.uk
Gibraltar gay rights record criticised
The government of Gibraltar is failing to protect sexual minorities, say gay rights campaigners in the territory. Gib Gay Rights Group are to approach the European Commission in Brussels to raise their concerns about the government’s attitude towards LGBT people. Gibraltar is a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom, but the government in London have no control over social policy. Labour MP Emily Thornberry recently asked questions in the House of Commons about the unequal age of consent and general discrimination issues in Gibraltar.
The response from Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon was unsatisfactory, say Gib Gay Rights Group (GGR). He ignored her question on the equalisation of the age of consent and replied in broad terms that the territory’s new constitution does grant protection from discrimination. GGR was established in 2000 by Felix Alvarez, and in a community of 27,000 people where politics is dominated by the issue of sovereignty they are openly campaigning for rights equal to those enjoyed by gay people in the UK.
Spain claims that Gibraltar is their territory. It was seized by Britain in 1704, and its strategic position at the juncture of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean meant that the UK has retained the territory. GGR are critical of the government, led by the Gibraltar Social Democrats, for its slowness in responding to the group’s request for the party to clarify its policy on sexual minorities.
LGBT people in the territory have little legal protection from discrimination. Up until 1992, all male homosexual relationships were illegal. At present male homosexual sex is legal at 18, rather than 16 for heterosexual and lesbian sex. "In the UK citizens cannot be discriminated against in shops, hotels, bars or anywhere else when they act as ordinary citizens in the pursuit of goods and services,” said Mr Alvarez, referring the Sexual Orientation Regulations due to be presented to Parliament next month.
“This contrasts starkly with Gibraltar’s situation where no such protections exist and discrimination at the point of rendering or obtaining goods and services may be legally denied to a person by virtue only of their sexual orientation.“At European level several questions have been tabled regarding the fact that Gibraltar continues to discriminate on the issue of the legal age of consent for sexual minority citizens and counter to judgments from the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
FurlGGR was established in 2000 by Felix Alvarez. They are openly campaigning for rights equal to those enjoyed by gay people in the UK.
11th January 2008 – PinkNews
Gibraltar gays take age of consent fight to Europe
Gibraltar’s unequal age of consent and discriminatory sexual offences legislation have been taken to the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe by gay rights group GGR. At present male homosexual sex is legal at 18, rather than 16 for heterosexual and lesbian sex. The Council of Ministers is the highest level of the European body which is responsible for overseeing human rights. Gibraltar is a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom, and the British government has no control over social policy.
Felix Alvarez, GGR (Gibraltar Gay Rights) chairman, said Gibraltar’s failure to respect human rights standards is the United Kingdom’s responsibility. Besides the unequal age of consent, Gibraltar also retains criminal offences such as buggery and gross indecency, which exclusively criminalise gay men.
Mr Alvarez wrote on his blog: "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."
He added that the GGR will resist all political pressures and the group will continue to work to ensure that real and legally recognised human rights are truly respected and upheld, despite political and technical obstacles being placed by the Chief Minister Peter Caruana. "We must all be wary of politicians who manipulate sentiment in this manner so as to bolster their failing electoral support," he wrote. 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."
Mr Hancock told Portsmouth Today: "Gibraltar’s still part of our dominion and they should be covered by the same rules and regulations. The Prime Minister has a duty to put this point to Gibraltar’s chief minister." In October the Prime Minister committed himself to ending the unequal age of consent in the self-governing territory.
MEP Michael Cashman met with Gordon Brown and raised the issue with him. LGBT people in the territory have little legal protection from discrimination. Up until 1992, all male homosexual relationships were illegal. GGR was established in 2000 by Mr Alvarez, and in a community of 27,000 people where politics is dominated by the issue of sovereignty, they are openly campaigning for rights equal to those enjoyed by gay people in the UK. Mr Alvarez said there was "growing heterosexual support being received on Gibraltar-based internet pro-gay rights forums which have spontaneously established themselves."
Spain claims that Gibraltar is their territory. It was seized by Britain in 1704, and its strategic position at the point where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean meet meant that the UK has retained the territory.
May 20, 2008 – PinkNews
Gibraltar court to hear lesbian discrimination case
by Tony Grew
A lesbian couple are taking the Gibraltar Housing Department to court after it refused to place them as joint tenants. The authorities said the couple should apply for separate housing units. Nadine Rodriguez has applied for a judicial review to reconsider the non-inclusion of her partner in the tenancy agreement. As things stand, should Ms Rodriguez die, her partner has no legal right to the apartment and could be forced onto the street. The Gibraltar government argues that they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation as the laws also apply to heterosexual unmarried couples. However, heterosexual couples can marry.
Gibraltar’s Equality Rights Group (GGR) has welcomed the start of the court hearing. "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," said GGR chairman Felix Alvarez. The only reason why the Housing Department 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 the Gibraltar government became reasonable, stopped being on the defensive, and helped 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."
The self-governing British overseas territory, which shares a land border with Spain, still has a higher age of consent for gay sex. Gibraltar also retains criminal offences such as buggery and gross indecency, which exclusively criminalise gay men. Gay and lesbian people on "The Rock" were heartened last month when British government has told the Council of Europe that it takes "very seriously" Gibraltar’s compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council of Europe is responsible for overseeing human rights as laid out in the Convention.
In October 2007 the Prime Minister committed himself to ending the unequal age of consent in the self-governing territory. "Statements from the Committee of Ministers are only published after consensus has been reached," said Mr Alvarez. "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. It signals the UK’s clear endorsement. GGR is confident of information it has received that meetings between government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have been taking place in order to reach agreement about the manner and timing of these changes."
GGR was established in 2000 by Mr Alvarez, and in a community of 27,000 people where politics is dominated by the issue of sovereignty, they are openly campaigning for rights equal to those enjoyed by gay people in the UK. Mr Alvarez said there was "growing heterosexual support being received on Gibraltar-based internet pro-gay rights forums which have spontaneously established themselves." Spain claims that Gibraltar is its territory. It was seized by Britain in 1704.
May 6, 2009 – PinkNews
Lesbian couple to appeal in the UK over Gibraltar’s housing policy
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A lesbian couple who were refused a joint tenancy in government housing in Gibraltar are to appeal in the UK. Three years ago, the Housing Allocation Committee refused to grant them a joint tenancy on the basis that they were unmarried. Local law states that only parents, spouses and children can be included in a Government tenancy agreement.
The Gibraltar Chronicle reports that lawyers for the women have argued that the decision breaches their fundamental Constitutional and human rights but this argument was rejected by the Supreme Court. After the couple appealed at the Court of Appeal, it was ruled that the government was entitled to protect the ‘traditional family’ by favouring straight married couples when allocating state housing. The couple will now argue their case in front of the Privy Council in London after being granted permission by acting Chief Justice Anthony Dudley.
The self-governing British overseas territory, which shares a land border with Spain, still has a higher age of consent for gay sex. Gibraltar also retains criminal offences such as buggery and gross indecency, which exclusively criminalise gay men.
19 June 2009 – PinkPaper
Gibraltar rejects age of consent equality – Parliament in Gibraltar have crushed hopes of equalising the age of consent for gay men, despite increasing international interest and political pressure.
by James Sanders
Parliament in Gibraltar have crushed hopes of equalising the age of consent for gay men, despite increasing international interest and political pressure. The bill, which was defeated earlier today, aimed to bring the age of consent down from 18 to 16 – the same as for heterosexuals – which remains a necessity of European human rights laws. Despite gaining some support from government officials, it ultimately failed when opposition members voted against it on the grounds that it should’ve been a Government Bill, rather than a Private Members one.
Commenting on today’s defeat, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "The Government of Gibraltar is required by the European Court of Human Rights to equalise the age of consent for same-sex relationships. The equalisation legislation should have therefore been sponsored by the government and not introduced as a private member’s bill. I am very surprised and disappointed that this was a private member’s bill and not a government bill. The government gives the impression that it is trying to evade its responsibility to uphold equality and human rights. As a British Overseas Territory, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ultimate responsibility for ensuring Gibraltar’s compliance with human rights law. I urge the Foreign Secretary to read the riot act to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Peter Caruana. Gibraltar cannot be allowed to evade its human rights obligations.
"The opposition’s vote against the bill gives a bad impression and contradicts its previous support for gay equality. They say it was principled stand against a flawed bill, which had failed to remove offensive legal references to disabled people as ‘imbeciles’, ‘idiots’ and ‘defectives.’ They protest that they were not given adequate parliamentary time to make the necessary amendments. The Government of Gibraltar seems intent on scuppering gay equality, with its ham-fisted tactics. Why was the legislation suddenly rushed through parliament, when a number of MPs were overseas and when there was insufficient time for a considered debate and amendments?" queried Tatchell.
This, however, is not necessarily a new issue. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has previously vowed to end the inequality in the age of consent, although intervention is unlikely to be a priority now due to Britain’s own economic crisis. Up until 1992, all male homosexual relationships were illegal.
March 5, 2010 – PinkNews
Gibraltar court to rule on gay age of consent
by Jessica Geen
Gibraltar’s Supreme Court is to rule on whether the unequal age of consent for gays violates constitutional law. The British territory has an age of consent of 16 for heterosexuals and lesbians but 18 for gay men, which contravenes European human rights law.
A bill to introduce the change was defeated four votes to eight in June last year. Opposition members voted against it on the grounds that there should be a full consultation on the age of consent for everyone and that it should have been a government bill, rather than a private members bill. The Supreme Court has been asked by chief minister Peter Caruana and attorney general Ricky Rhoda QC to declare whether the difference breaches the constitutional rights of gay men.
The case is a landmark because it will be the first time the government has been allowed to seek a judge’s view on constitutional matters. The Gibraltar Chronicle reports that despite the public interest in the case, the attorney general’s office has declined to release preliminary documentation it had filed with the court outlining the government’s reasoning. The arguments in support of the current age of consent are unknown.
June 11, 2010 – PinkNews
UK will tell Gibraltar age of consent difference ‘breaches international law’
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The UK is to tell Gibraltar its unequal age of consent for gay and straight people breaches international law. The territory currently allows lesbians and heterosexuals to have sex at 16, but the age of consent for gay men is 18. Anal sex is illegal between men and women. According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, David Lidington, Minister of State for Europe and NATO at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, said the British government would make an intervention over the issue.
In a written response to a parliamentary question in the House of Commons, he explained: “The UK intervention will set out the international legal arguments that the distinction in the age of consent – and other discriminatory provisions relating to sexual offences – are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. “The British government takes seriously its obligations under the ECHR which also extend to the overseas territories. We are committed to working with overseas territories governments to ensure we meet these obligations.”
The Gibraltar government has asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the difference breaches the constitutional rights of gay men. Britain could amend the territory’s laws for it if the territory does not take the step itself. The Gibraltar government’s arguments against lowering the age of consent for gay men were published in February. It argues that the matter can be justified on health and religious grounds.
Documents said: “Religious faith plays an important role in our community and is also an important part of its social cohesion which would be undermined.” On health, they added: "widening the range of sexual practices which can be committed with young people puts even more pressure on them to be sexually active and there is no doubt that anal sex carries greater health risks than heterosexual intercourse.” The government also argues that it is heterosexuals being discriminated against, rather than gay men, as straight couples are completely banned from having anal sex.
April 8, 2011 – Uk Gay News
Another Step Towards Equality Says Gibraltar Gay Rights Following Court Ruling
Gibraltar – After almost eleven years of their campaign to bring equality to Gibraltar’s age of consent law, Equality Rights Group GGR is today celebrating what they consider to be “a first but very hard won step forward towards equality for all sexual minorities in Gibraltar”. The celebrations come following a Gibraltar High Court ruling this morning that said the age of consent should be the same for gay men and women as for heterosexuals.
“There is no doubt that much still remains to be done and we will be keeping an eye out for political parties’ promises in their coming manifestoes,” acting spokesman for the group, Charles Trico, said this afternoon. “This first major hurdle towards Gibraltar law recognising equality for this sector of our community is a litmus test not only for how the issues have moved on in modern societies generally, but especially in Gibraltar since GGR started to air the questions affecting LGBT people on the Rock in September 2000.’ Despite many difficulties over the years, it is good to see the law finally agreeing with our arguments,” Mr. Trico continued. “We hold no bad feeling or rancour towards any side, and extend a hand of friendship towards anyone who may represent an opposing view.
“We are also always willing to [enter into] dialogue with any government or Party whatever their colours. This is an opportunity for political attitudes to change to this question, and for people to wake up to the fact that Gibraltarians have ‘moved on’ from prejudice towards a more accepting attitude towards minorities. Let me take this opportunity to thank John Restano of Hassan’s for his committed and sterling work, as well as the UK Government and Unite the Union for having supported the arguments for equality on sexual orientation in Court.”
Mr. Trico also said the GGR expects to announce the result of the new chairperson in the coming weeks.