ERG celebrates 21 year legacy with artwork presentation

‘Hope’, a multi-media collage/painting by Allyson Attias, originally donated to ERG on 13/6/2013 and presented to the Mayor of Gibraltar at City Hall to honour and mark the occasion of ‘Stonewall Day’, 28/6/2021.

‘Equality Rights Group is grateful to the Mayor of Gibraltar and his team for marking the 28th June at City Hall this year. This date is a significant moment in recent history for the LGBT+ community worldwide because it marks the start of the modern gay rights movement on this very day in 1969, following protests against discrimination around The Stonewall Inn in New York.

‘In Gibraltar we, too, had to overcome much in order to get to where we are today. There were many serious personal difficulties that early activists had to endure. However, at ERG today we cannot hide our satisfaction at seeing how the work of GGR/ERG has borne fruit and is enjoyed by so many without fear of discrimination or recrimination. It’s exactly what we fought for. Watching the Pride Month activities and the Mayor’s festive video in which young Gibraltar citizens speak openly and proudly were precisely what we started fighting for when we first spoke to our community in September 2000. It is a GGR/ERG legacy we are proud of.

‘So many acts of openness and celebration today would not have been possible without the activism of that generation of Gibraltarians, men and women, gay and straight, who each paved the way for today’s freedoms to eventually be taken up politically and made concrete. They must not be overlooked or forgotten; and today ERG pays tribute to them as well as to the young post-GGR generation who take Pride forward. We would like to encourage them to also organise themselves in support of young LGBT+ people.

‘When Felix Alvarez and Charles Trico announced the ‘end of the fear factor’ twenty-one years ago, a hard path towards equality was opened that would eventually lead to a score of important changes: the end of housing discrimination, ground-breaking civil partnership (with Ali and Nadine Muscat the first ever gay couple to be officially united), equal marriage, hate crime and hate speech, as well as to adoption and surrogacy rights for LGBT+ families in Gibraltar. All settled achievements today, but daring, scandalous and unheard of in September 2000. In 2021, Gibraltar has a thriving civil marriage offering bringing in numbers of foreign tourists choosing Gibraltar for their own same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, helping boost travel, hotel, catering and photography businesses.

‘We cannot overlook the important part played by the GSLP/Liberals in bringing all these legislative advances to Gibraltar, starting with their election back in late 2011. Those changes today sustain the freedoms celebrated so openly by so many in the LGBT+ community. Unfortunately, homophobia in its many guises remains and society must continue to work against discrimination and prejudice of any kind; a message of importance to both individuals and the institutions.

‘The struggle, then, is by no means over. Most brutally, homophobic regimes around the world continue to impose their cruel hatred towards sexual minorities today, with too many innocent people languishing in punishing prisons or humiliated and executed publicly, with so-called ‘honour killings’ being voluntary family murder of gays, lesbians and trans people perversely used to justify inhuman hatred.

‘There can be no liberation,’ says the Group, ‘until homophobia is eliminated completely. And however much progress is achieved, no-one should ever take their rights for granted because they can be removed again and at any time. The price of freedom, as has been well said, is eternal vigilance.

‘Today, therefore, for the first significant marking of this day here in Gibraltar, and on behalf of its members, friends and allies, ERG takes pleasure in officially presenting a painting/collage to the Mayor of Gibraltar entitled ‘Hope’ by local artist Allyson Attias, a teenager at the time of her work. The painting was originally donated to the group on 13 June 2013 in recognition of the NGO’s work in human and civil rights for all. As the title suggests, Ms. Attias’ multi-media canvas celebrates the hope of struggle and the demand for liberation. Allyson’s father, Mr. Albert Attias, representing the artist on the occasion due to her absence from Gibraltar, conveyed Ms. Attias’ satisfaction at the artwork finding a place at City Hall on this remarkable and historic international day.’