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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions – with our answers. If you have a question you feel should be included, don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know!
The group started out in the year 2000 campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. And while those rights still form a part of its on-going work, it now represents issues right across the human and civil rights front in which people of all sexual orientations in Gibraltar participate. For fuller information on the Group’s background, read our ‘About Us’ section.
We were first known as ‘GGR’. Many people still refer to us that way. But our name for quite a few years now has been Equality Rights Group and we retain ‘GGR’ in smaller print and in brackets as a reminder of our origins.
An Executive Committee is tasked with the management of the organisation’s campaign planning and policy setting. See ‘The Executive Committee’ to see current members.
Yes, meetings are held from time to time. You can see more information posted on our Equality Rights Group GGR Facebook page.
Of course – we neither discriminate on sexual orientation, nor are we exclusively a gay rights organisation. We work on human and civil rights across the board – and for all. You’re welcome!
If you read our ‘What we do’ menu, you’ll see the kind of services or help we provide. But even if we ourselves cannot help you directly, we will try to put you on the right track to obtaining the help you need.
Easy. Check out the ‘What You Can Do’ section for more info.
Human rights are universally accepted rights regardless of nationality, religion and ethnicity. On the other hand, civil rights fall within the limits of a country’s law, and pertain to the social, cultural, religious and traditional standards, and other aspects.
The following link gives you more info: Difference between Human and Civil Rights
Where a country has a Constitution, as is the case with Gibraltar, it becomes the framework for all other laws to comply with. Section 18 (8) of the Constitution means that Gibraltar courts must take the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights ‘into account’. Check out the Gibraltar Constitution in the Library section.
Other than that, there are a range of laws which have been introduced in Gibrtaltar in compliance with certain international human rights requirements – whether on refugee status, the disabled, or on non-discrimination aspects (from the EU, the Council of Europe or the UN) and so on. Again, you can check out the documents in the Library.
I think there are many issues which are human or civil rights that I don’t see in the UN Declaration or the European Convention documents in the Library section. Am I mistaken?
No, you’re not mistaken at all! Remember that the basic human rights frameworks (whether the UN Declaration or the European Convention) were drawn up in the middle of the twentieth century. Quite a lot of people believe more rights should be included, and that these fundamental laws ought to be updated. Until that happens, then whenever anyone talks of ‘human rights’, we’re actually talking about the rights that currently exist in these documents! You may think, for example, that the right to housing ought to be a fundamental human right (I’m sure you’ll think of other examples). But until either the UN or the Council of Europe decide to add this to the founding document, in law it remains outside the definition.
No, there’s a lot of confusion about this. And it’s not helped by the fact that newspapers often mix up the two. Let’s see if we can clarify here once and for all:
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): This forms a part of the Council of Europe, which was set up after the Second World War to ensure that terrible atrocities such as happened at that time are not repeated in Europe. The Council oversees both the application of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which sets down the standards for European human rights, and also the Court (ECtHR) which judges cases based on the Convention.
The European Court of Justice: This is the highest court of the European Union (nothing to do with the Council of Europe). It deals with cases based on EU law. There’s a further complication or confusion, inasmuch as all members of the European Union are required to be signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights. So, while human rights cases will normally be judged, as such by EctHR, many cases that go to the EU’s Court of Justice will have to take into account the European Convention of Human Rights.
So, we know it’s confusing, but in brief: no, the European Court of Human Rights is different from the European Court of Justice! Don’t let bad media reporting confuse you!
What’s the difference between the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights?
Basically, the UN document is a set of human rights rules to which all members of the United Nations subscribe. It’s a world framework. The European Convention, however, is applicable to those European nations who have signed up to it. While there are many overlaps in the approach and rights dealt with in each document, there are also differences.
The definition of ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ is better expressed as ‘sexual orientation towards people’ rather than ‘sexual attraction to’. This reflects the fact that people build committed, stable relationships and is not purely a focus on sexual activity (Stonewall)
It is a term that is used to describe a man who has an emotional and/or sexual orientation towards men. The term can also refer to Lesbian women. It is a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality (Stonewall). Some people find the term offensive because they believe the term is a male specific language used to describe a whole community which they deem as sexism.
It is a term used to identify a woman who has an emotional and or sexual orientation towards women. Lesbians have always existed; they are in every culture and part of every economic and social class.
Bisexual is a term used to identify a person who is attracted emotionally, sexually and physically to both men and women. Bisexuals have always existed; they are in every culture and part of every economic and social class.
Transgender is a term referring to people whose apparent gender identity may sometimes or consistently be different from the social expectations for the biological sex identified as their own at birth – for example, by the way they choose to dress. People who do not conform to these prescribed gender roles may be considered part of the transgender community. These social expectations include gender roles (‘feminine’ for women and ‘masculine’ for men).Transgender people, however, do not feel discomfort with their body gender.
Transexual people are caught between their ‘brain gender’ and their ‘body gender’. It is a condition known as ‘Gender Dysphoria’, whereby at early developmental stages, a different signal has gone to the brain to what was transmitted to the rest of the body. Typically, transexual people feel ‘trapped’ in the wrong body. Not all countries consider Gender Dysphoria to be an illness – and this is currently an area of controversy. Often – though not always – transexual people will opt for hormonal, surgical and other treatments which will allow them to adopt the physical and social identity characteristics of the gender they feel themselves to be. Transexual male-to- females (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM) people are, at the same time, of all sexual orientations since the issue of gender and sexual orientation are completely distinct from each other. Thus, a MTF person may be heterosexual or homosexual. A man attracted to women emotionally and physically while still male bodily, may, following surgery to adopt female characteristics, therefore identify as lesbian, since the new body gender in no way affects their sexual orientation. The sistuation may also apply to FTM individuals.
Homophobia is the fear of same sex attractions and prejudice towards lesbian and gay people. The same may apply to bisexuals (‘biphobia’) or transgender/transexual people (‘transphobia’).
Gay people are perfectly normal people. This was validated by the World Health Organisation in 1991 when homosexuality was officially removed from the list of recognised diseases. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are in every culture and part of every economic and social class. What is not normal is that they should be treated as second-class citizens or be the object of hate.
Most Governments use the figure of 5-7% of the population based on reputable and accepted sociological studies. In Gibraltar, based on a population of approximately 28,000, this means that it is reasonable to assume there are around 1,700 exclusively gay or lesbian people – but the figure is greater if we take in bisexuals, too. However, there is no hard data on the number of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in Gibraltar as no national census has ever asked people to define their sexuality – and such data, in any case, would likely be statistically unreliable due to under-reporting.