ERG: ‘We are proud of Gibraltar!’
‘Today is a happy and long-awaited day for many in Gibraltar. And Equality Rights Group extends a big thanks to all the LGBTI community and also to the very special people who have fought unfailingly alongside us. They are friends of Justice who, despite not being directly affected, have stayed by us in changing the world around us little by little. They have all meant a great deal to us. And we count on them to continue working with us as we progress in human and civil rights for all in this community. There is still much to do, and we will achieve it together, because it’s not the Law that changes people – it’s the People that change the Law! And we have proven that to be a poignant truth today!’ Chairman Felix Alvarez announced
‘There is concern among some members of the community regarding a Conscience Clause in the Bill which will allow Deputy Registrars who may have religious objections regarding same-sex marriage to be able to opt out of their employment duties. Government will be required, however, to provide a replacement celebrant. We understand the concern and the principle in question, the implications of which reach much beyond LGBT marriage. Nonetheless, ERG will keep a very close eye on the practical working of this provision. We will monitor the day-to-day functioning of this part of the Bill and, should it be enforced, we will take the necessary actions in due course and based on evidence.
‘But on days like today, when Gibraltar, despite its differences, puts them aside and shows it cares, it is impossible not to feel immense pride in our country and our people. Let us continue learning to live in peace and co-existence, side by side. Let us respect each other.
‘The politicians and Parties also play an important part. And ERG thanks the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, and the Government team of Ministers for their commitment and work in bringing this change of immeasurable importance to the lives of so many. We also thank members of the Parliamentary GSD as well as Independent Marlene Hassan Nahon for their support in steering this through positively. ERG looks forward to working with all parliamentary representatives in developing the human and civil rights of all Gibraltarians.
‘The solidarity of Unite the Union, NASUWT/GTA and GGCA throughout the years has not just been crucial, it has been a source of real warmth and encouragement in what, at times, has been a very difficult journey. We count on them also to continue on the road towards rights progress across this Community. Both the Secular Humanist Society of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Women’s Association have also provided open and public support and we acknowledge and thank them.
‘As we celebrate this important advance for the LGBTI community, let us remain just as adamant to support and achieve advances for other sectors within Gibraltar. Justice is not done only for us, but we must stand with others in their struggles, too. For instance, we now understand that the disabled community can expect to see a long-awaited law bringing them advances in rights by December of this year. They have been waiting for too long. And ERG trusts and hopes their patience will bear the kind of fruit for which they have been struggling. ERG will remain by their side in full support and solidarity for anything they may need.
‘Whether in success or in difficulties, ERG has a firm commitment to this community, an unbreakable promise to always act to the best of our abilities, to licitly and impartially speak up on behalf of what is right, and to openly and constructively criticise what is not. We praise when and where praise is due; and we criticise in the hope of constructive progress when and where also due. And we do so regardless of which Party may be in power, and in the offering of constructive ways forward. Dialogue is always our way. Those are the ethics of human and civil rights defence by which we are obstinately guided, and by which we shall continue to abide, whatever the pressures may be. It is the route of political and democratic maturity, not partisanship. It is also the foundation of our determination to build secular Civil Society solidarity throughout our Community,’ the statement closed.