Press Conference: 21 September 2005
FIT FOR FUTURE
Felix Alvarez, Chairman
A year ago this month the Chief Minister hailed the opening of a Human Rights Symposium for the first time in Gibraltar claiming his Govt wished to foster “a human rights culture”. In that same Symposium his then Education Minister belittled and criticised the UK Human Rights Act for engendering “a compensation culture”! We ask: does this Govt know and (even more significantly) does it mean what it’s saying? Many real, moderate Social Democrats have been and are currently voting with their feet to make apparent their response. And we welcome their moderation! In reporting to you on our work over the past 5 years it is inevitable that I place that in the context of the life of this community. Human and Equality Rights do not live in a vacuum and I am necessarily bound to explain our development within the framework of Gibraltar’s political development. Because the rise of a human rights movement in Gibraltar is an important part of our growth precisely at a time in our history when we are finding our voice as Gibraltarians and when we are maturing as people in control of our own affairs. We are no longer content for politicians to simply lead us. More and more we Gibraltarians are requiring politicians follow us!
Annette Vallejo (Abuse Issues):
Over the past 3 years, this organisation has been approached privately by a number of individuals concerned about the sexual abuse of children by members of their families and close individuals. The problem is a trickle, but it’s a trickle that shouldn’t be there! Yet we ask ourselves this: behind this trickle of brave people willing to at least take the first painful steps in confronting such a painful situation, how many more are keeping silent due to fear, confusion and the desperate worry that noone will really help them or pay attention? It is an answer that desperately worries us too in GGR.
2. Furthermore, it is our duty to say to the Public: we are concerned that the authorities may not be dealing with the question of Child Sex Abuse sufficiently seriously. Whilst we are at the early stage of information gathering and so therefore cannot be conclusive, we worry as to whether the prosecution of child sex offences and/or the human support necessary for victims and their families are being dealt with satisfactorily. We question whether resources are adequate, and whether sufficient attention is paid to the important details of these cases. And it is precisely resources and attention that are important here in ensuring that these matters are faced squarely in the face!
3. GGR will continue to campaign for sex abuse to be taken seriously by the authorities. In the coming months we will be informing the public of other actions and measures in this regard. Information on those will be made available at the appropriate time.
Charles Trico (Age of Consent):
GGR’s campaign to equalise Gibraltar’s sexual Age of Consent is well-known. We believe that Equality requires the elimination of disparities of treatment between citizens. We particularly believe this is necessary in situations of consent.
2. To this end, we consider it fundamental that any new Gibraltar Constitution should address the blanket requirement for Equality and Human Rights for the gay and lesbian community. And we have made our thoughts clearly known to the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe.
3. The issue of Age of Consent is fundamental in the fight to bring light to where currently there is darkness. Young people should not be made to feel inferior or be required to remain hidden from view for fear of the law when it comes to the matter of Love in their lives.
4. Age of Consent is the OTHER side of the coin to another issue: Abuse of young people. It is by fixing legal ages in Equality that we can most easily avoid young people becoming prey to predatory adults. This is vital to understand!
Susan Haywood: (Community)
Martin Snape (Disability/Age):
How many decades behind the times is Gibraltar? In a Europe concerned with not just the theoretical rights of the disabled, but one in which the practical everyday realities are more and more the concern and day-to-day workload of Ministries and specialised organisations, Gibraltar still will not recognise IN LAW that the disabled are all who are disabled NOT ONLY at birth but at any time during a lifetime. Gibraltar’s law STILL today in the 21st Century only recognises disability when it is something suffered at birth! GGR has been calling for YEARS for Government to change the law to recognise disability whenever it occurs. AND YES: we are STILL waiting for this Government to pay attention and actually DO something in this respect!