As Gibraltar’s Human Rights organisation, we aim to see equality enshrined in law. That’s why we’ve campaigned with the consistent and professional seriousness such work demands, for hate crime laws to be introduced; for same-sex civil partnerships to become a reality; for laws prohibiting discrimination in goods and services – so that noone can be turned away from a restaurant, a hotel, any shop or business because of who they are. And we want to see more: a comprehensive disability protections law, a closer monitoring of recruitment agencies and employers to ensure noone’s employment chances are diminished because of their age, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other personal status. Of course, changing the law doesn’t just happen in Parliament; it happens in the Courts, too. The group, therefore, has supported and will continue to support legal challenges through the Courts; an avenue that has produced notable successes, and which should accompany any strategy for human rights change.
Civil Society Research – No more ‘shooting in the dark’
Organisations in Gibraltar already address the practical realities of our elderly, disabled, non-EU citizens and other sectors. Equality Rights Group supports their work – and aims to continue doing so by encouraging and undertaking in-depth research into the realities of our population. Such research will provide a sound scientific base for not only civil society NGO’s to target their resources more efficiently to serve the community, but will assist policy makers in, similarly, making better, sounder allocation decisions. Building Civil Society solidarity and professional competence amongst ourselves will not only increase our capacity to do the job – it will serve our community better!
Private business firms can play a part in their positive recognition of the citizen consumer, whilst expanding the reach of the local economy by addressing the specific needs of the people who make their business possible. In so doing, Business can not only reap benefits for itself, but expand Gibraltar’s economic base. Major business leaders (banks, brand leaders and many more) invest billions each year to reach out to a mostly untapped source of benefit: ‘minority’ consumers. In doing so, these ‘minorities’ bring in billions to commerce each year. On that basis alone, Equality Rights Group will encourage and support initiatives which can be the source of gain all round.
The Union movement is an important component of Civil Society, here in Gibraltar, as elsewhere. Equality Rights Group has a good and well-established working relationship with Unite the Union, and looks forward to extending this to the rest of the Union movement in Gibraltar. To this end, we will continue to work closely with the Unite leadership and representatives to foster greater positive cooperation as we work towards achieving mutual goals.
Disability rights are an important aspect of human and civil rights in any Society, and we support the various disability groups in Gibraltar to try and improve the conditions and quality of life of people with disabilities.
Equality Rights Group has fought and lobbied for the rights of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community in Gibraltar for more than a decade and, in dialogue with Government, it continues to work for the introduction of legal rights and recognitions for the LGB community as part of our overall commitment to human and civil rights for all in Gibraltar. For a long time, we were reticent about including ‘T’ rights into our campaign on the basis that no trans people had come forward. It was not in our prerogative to take up that struggle on the presumption of representativity. It seemed disrespectful so to do. This has now changed with the demand by a trans activist for the rights of transsexuals to form a part of our campaigning. We are happy, therefore, at this development; and, with their involvement, have now publicly made the call for transsexual rights to be progressed, with specific demands placed before Government. It is therefore, clearly, a broad campaign now for LGBT rights that we stand for.
Non EU Nationals
The rights and immigration issues applied to non EU nationals and as well as non EU workers is also supported by the Equality Rights Group. Gibraltar is a beacon of diversity but there is still a lot of work to be done in this respect.
In cooperation with the Gibraltar Health Authority, we are actively engaged in promoting greater awareness of the need to look after our sexual health. Outreach to people of all legal ages, genders and sexual orientations (infections do not discriminate!) is an essential element in our project to deliver better support and treatment, as well as in overcoming the fear and ignorance which drive the problem in the first place.
One of the most important aspects of our work – away from the glare of publicity and the spotlight – is our commitment to helping individuals and families, upon their request, with a range of issues that may be troubling them. We continue to offer this service in a private, discrete and confidential manner.