ERG calls for end to conversion therapy in Gib

Equality Rights Group has today welcomed the decision by the UK Government to introduce legislation to ban LGB conversion therapy practices.
‘We have been following the Johnson administration’s work on this question over the past year, in conjunction with our network of NGO and parliamentary allies in the United Kingdom. ERG has now readied its framework coordination on the campaign.
‘It is an issue we first raised in Gibraltar almost a year ago,’ ERG Chair Felix Alvarez stated in a press release today, ‘because it is unacceptable in 2022 that any kind of sexual and gender health referrals be passed on to unqualified or partial individuals. It cannot be tolerated in any mental health field, and this is no exception. This has been the case with issues of sexual orientation and identity in the past and which have come to our attention following concerns which have arisen.
‘It is not in the best interests of an individual undergoing confusion, anxiety or concern related to their sexual orientation or identity that they be dealt with by anyone who is not a wholly objective, impartial, accredited, qualified and trained professional. For this reason, we have previously raised this issue publicly and we have now raised it formally with Government. It cannot be kicked into the equality long grass any further. ERG is hopeful that Government will now take steps to close this long-standing gap, and as an established equality and human rights organisation, we will work closely with the Minister of Equality, the Chief Minister, and civil society supporters and allies to ensure this loophole is plugged in the wide raft of anti-discrimination legislation which now exists in our country. .

‘Let’s be quite clear: this is not a crusade against the religions, who have, in the past, nonetheless, acted oftentimes as the only available points of referral. They did what they could under the circumstances and with the level of knowledge available at that time. And without a doubt, the denominations often acted motivated by caring. Unfortunately, the approach too often did not produce the positive results required. And it is precisely this reality that has spurred both the Johnson government and others in other jurisdictions, following due investigation and research, to prohibit conversion therapy practices in favour of professionalised and qualified person-centred resources free of ideological focus.

‘What is the scale of the problem in Gibraltar?’ ERG continues. ‘In reality, Gibraltar is a tiny jurisdiction. And the fact is that, since ERG’s pioneering work over two decades ago, wide legal advances have been achieved which, in parallel, has led to new Gibraltarian generations of citizens who, today, are free of the burden of shame, guilt and oppression which weighed so heavily on the mental health of this sector of the community.

‘But so long as any level of homophobia exists (and it unfortunately does) we will never be rid of the negative effects that some people will still suffer due to their circumstances. And, however few may be affected, harm is harm and cannot be allowed to exist as an option at any level or degree. Therefore, any legal loopholes or omissions that may exist in Gibraltar law allowing unqualified, untrained individuals to provide services which do not guarantee safe and neutral services or consultation on sexual orientation questions voluntarily requested by individuals must be properly sanctioned legally.

‘To this end, I have today written to the Chief Minister urging him and his Government to take the necessary steps to prohibit conversion therapy in Gibraltar under the criminal law and dealing with the issue of transgender identity in relation to it, which UK legislation does not presently intend to deal with but which, as on other related issues, Gibraltar need not be limited by,’ the communique closed.