ERG raises concerns over the marking of ‘Pride’ 2021
ERG has been inundated with complaints regarding the management of the marking of PRIDE this year, particularly due to its accompaniment by unacceptable homophobic commentary on local social media, and the perceived resulting early curtailment of the public raising of the rainbow flag.
ERG Chairman, Felix Alvarez has written to both the Chief Minister urging a reconciliatory statement to the community, whilst also directing himself to the Commissioner of Police to request complaints of homophobia in social media be investigated.
Below is a copy of the letter sent to Fabian Picardo today.
Thursday, 3rd June 2021
The opening of the month with the Minister for Equality’s announcement of the marking of LGBT Pride was well-received by the community at large. The lighting up of Moorish Castle with the rainbow colours (as indeed previously undertaken by Government on earlier occasions) was taken as a welcome sign of inclusion and normality in a country that, yes, ‘prides’ itself on our ability to live together in peace.
Unfortunately, this good feeling has too quickly grown negative; in the first place, by the very short-lived raising of a rainbow flag at the frontier with its Commonwealth Flag replacement. The latter, ofcourse, is not limited to a marking within a specific time frame in the year. And the rainbow flag has previously occupied that same place of honour by the frontier post. Indeed, whilst on this occasion a generic rainbow flag has been utilised, on previous occasion Gibraltar’s official LGBT flag as used by your Government and approved via the then Governor of Gibraltar, Sir Adrian Johns, was even more bravely and appropriately flown for all to see.
The contrast between the important fanfare (radio, television, major newspaper spreads) which accompanied the announcement of Pride’s opening, and the shocking brevity of the LGBT emblem’s appearance has struck a bitter chord very widely in the community at large.
Many today feel a step backwards has taken place. And people are looking to you for reconciliation with the tone and approach of your Government over the past two decades.
As Chief Minister, the LGBT community, its friends, families and allies would welcome a statement from you explaining that Government views the developments above outlined as the result of miscommunication, as it has always been Government’s respect for LGBT individuals in Gibraltar that has seen the LGBT flag fly without concessions to homophobia, belittling or hate; sentiments that have been widely experienced on this occasion.
Finally, homophobia is clearly by no means eradicated; neither in Gibraltar, nor anywhere else. We must be realists. We have travelled far in overcoming discrimination and hate, but the road is long. Nonetheless, Gibraltar must not tolerate homophobia or insults targeted at individuals on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Indeed, hate crime and hate speech are codified in our statutes.
To this end, I have written to Commissioner Richard Ullger, requesting that an investigation into comments and messages of an unacceptable nature be undertaken.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course in expectation of your positive response.
Felix Alvarez OBE
Equality Rights Group (ERG)