ERG lobbies Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson
The statement came from Equality Rights Group following Unite Gibraltar’s public confirmation of support for ERG’s campaign for the pardoning of convictions for consenting behaviour which, nonetheless, were considered to be sexual offences by gay men prior to partial decriminalisation by Gibraltar in 1993.
‘We launched our campaign in Gibraltar not only because it was the right thing to do for any gay men who were wrongfully discriminated prior to 1993, but also, more widely, in solidarity with Unite the Union’s UK campaign. As the public will know, we made a public call for both the Government of Gibraltar and Unite Gibraltar to stand firm with us on this matter. And we appreciate the favourable responses received from both the Chief Minister, the Minister for Justice, and now also from Unite Gibraltar.
‘However, the situation in Gibraltar requires resolution at the UK end, given that under our Constitution, pardons require the Governor’s consent. In order to support both Unite the Union locally and at HQ, in addition to assisting the Gibraltar Government, we have now also taken the step of officially contacting Amber Rudd, MP (above) the current Home Secretary, directly expressing our agreement with the ‘Convicted for Love’ Campaign and its applicability to gay men in Gib. We have also contacted the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson (right) in his role as responsible for Gibraltar. Not least, it was also correct and proper for ERG to express our solidarity with UK LGBT people.
‘In effect, Secretary Rudd has the authority under Westminster’s Section 166 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 to add the offence of soliciting or importuning under s32 Sexual Offences Act 1956 to the list of offences which can be disregarded under s92(1) Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. In the same way as she has already disregarded previous offences under outdated homophobic legislation, ERG supports the strong call by Unite UK to restore the dignity and reputation of individuals whose only ‘offence’ was to enter into consenting relations with another member of the same gender.
‘In Gibraltar, the task of identifying individuals who may have been affected in their day is not an easy one. In particular, because the social shame attached to such ‘offences’ in the past led to them seeking a maximum of anonymity, quite understandably. Some pardons may now need to be posthumous, too. Furthermore, the Courts would have to sift through documentation over long periods of time, and this is likely to be burdensome. Whilst ERG is already providing assistance where it can, we recognise the bureaucratic difficulties entailed. We therefore consider that a blanket pardon without the necessity for individual application is perhaps the best way to resolve this going forward, and we look forward, in due course, to the approval of both Ms. Rudd and the Governor of Gibraltar, Lt. General Ed Davis (who we shall also be advising directly) .
‘Meantime, we are deeply grateful for both the institutional and public responses we have received to this latest initiative,’ the statement closes.