Gibraltar votes down gay age equality

June 19, 2009

LONDON — Commenting on Thursday's defeat of the gay age of consent equality bill in the Gibraltar Parliament, which would have established an equal age of consent of 16, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

"The Government of Gibraltar is required by the European Court of Human Rights to equalise the age of consent for same-sex relationships. The equalisation legislation should have therefore been sponsored by the government and not introduced as a private member's bill.

"I am very surprised and disappointed that this was a private member's bill and not a government bill. The government gives the impression that it is trying to evade its responsibility to uphold equality and human rights.

"As a British Overseas Territory, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ultimate responsibility for ensuring Gibraltar's compliance with human rights law.

"I urge the Foreign Secretary to read the riot act to Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Peter Caruana. Gibraltar cannot be allowed to evade its human rights obligations.

"The opposition's vote against the bill gives a bad impression and contradicts its previous support for gay equality. They say it was principled stand against a flawed bill, which had failed to remove offensive legal references to disabled people as 'imbeciles', 'idiots' and 'defectives.' They protest that they were not given adequate parliamentary time to make the necessary amendments.

"The Government of Gibraltar seems intent on scuppering gay equality, with its ham-fisted tactics.

"Why was the legislation suddenly rushed through parliament, when a number of MPs were overseas and when there was insufficient time for a considered debate and amendments?" queried Mr Tatchell. – Issued by Peter Tatchell - Outrage!

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