ERG calls on Govt and Unite the Union Gibraltar ‘to follow suit’
The British Home secretary, Amber Rudd, has been urged by Unite the Union in the UK ‘to institute a legal pardon for all those convicted of homosexual offences’, Equality Rights Group has stated today in a press statement quoting the Union’s official release, which goes on to say that ‘Unite wants the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act on 27 July, which decriminalised homosexual acts between men aged over 21, to be a launch pad to extend the Alan Turing ‘pardon’ to all categories of offences.’
‘In similar vein, ERG has written both to the Chief Minister and to the Regional Officer of Unite the Union in Gibraltar, Victor Ochello, urging them to follow Unite UK’s suit in ensuring that the Government of Gibraltar act similarly towards gay men locally convicted of a sexual offence under what was known as the Crimes Ordinance prior to the 1993 Amendment to the statute partially decriminalizing homosexual relations.
‘Gay men convicted of such offences prior to 1993 should be officially pardoned in Gibraltar, too, and their records and dignity restored. Given the terrible shame surrounding such convictions at the time, only the Courts will have access to the cases of any such individuals. Where requested, ERG will be happy to discreetly assist such individuals in the process.
‘It’s unconscionable that gay men’s lives were in many cases destroyed, with dreadful consequences to their employment, families, social relations and psychological well-being as a result of discriminatory homophobic laws dating back to the mid 19th century. Women, of course, were not affected by that legislation, since Victorian Gibraltar didn’t even contemplate that women were sexual at all.
‘It is gratifying to know that the Chief Minister immediately contacted ERG to inform us of his full agreement with this request, followed up by the swift notification of the Minister for Justice, Neil Costa, to advise us he had already issued instructions as necessary. We await a response from Unite Gibraltar.
‘We have gone far in beginning to change attitudes of hate towards the LGBT community, but we still have a long way to go. In particular, ERG is alerted to a residual problem of homophobic bullying in school environments. Government needs to continue the task of combating unacceptable attitudes and we have, in similar manner, contacted Minister for Education, John Cortes making enquiries. Again, ERG is pleased to receive immediate responses from the Minister and his staff who have expressed their concern and determination to follow up bullying of whatever character in the school system.
‘We encourage and urge students and their families who are victims of bullying to never hesitate in bringing attention to incidents of physical or psychological bullying to their school authorities. We need not remind the public that ERG is always willing to assist. Indeed, doing justice to both older and younger gay men in our community is certainly a healing move,’ the statement ends.