ERG Welcomes New Committee

The ERG has welcomed the announcement of a separate project known as the LGBTQ Committee.

A statement from the ERG follows below:

‘We say it with all the warmth a new and enthusiastic LGBT+ initiative in Gibraltar deserves,’ Equality Rights Group (ERG) declared today as it welcomed a separate project known as the LGBTQ Committee. ‘We extend a hand of welcome and support.’

‘ERG is twenty-one years old this year as a fully Gibraltarian Human and Civil Rights NGO, with a notable track record of success in taking Gibraltar from silence and discrimination for the LGBT+ community, to the place where we are today; where even the Mayor of Gibraltar can now be open, and neither young nor old need fear the consequences of not being heterosexual.’

‘Along with all the changes in multiple policies and laws that have become possible from 2011 and the inception of the present Administration, comes a growth in demand for social opportunities from the community. And we’re happy to observe the mission of our new friends to fill that gap and, at the same time, play an educational role. We wish them every success on their worthy commitment,’ Chair of the group, Felix Alvarez, noted.

‘With the knowledge and long experience that comes from over two decades of progress, however, ERG also strikes a note or two of caution,’ Mr Alvarez continues.

‘Gibraltar is a small community and, quite clearly, still transitioning into the new scheme of things. Lobbying as we have, we are proud that the transitioning has been achieved in a relatively peaceful and stable manner. Direct comparisons with other countries are not always useful, though we must always be open to learning.

‘It is, however, vitally important to remain sensitive to our own context here in Gibraltar. Moving a society needs an on-going and intelligent combination of pushing margins but doing it in a way that is workable for the community, without giving in to retrograde resistance. It’s not easy.

‘For this reason, ERG counsels not moving in ways that corner or isolate the LGBT+ community. Creating a sense of exclusivity or disproportionate focus on one sector of the community can set up an interplay of forces that could risk the fine balance we’ve cultivated, with a great deal of deliberation, over the past 21 years at ERG.

‘Furthermore, No. 6 and indeed City Hall will be wise to be measured in the face of impulse. Entering, as we are told, a period of economic readjustment on every front as a result of Brexit and Covid-19, an imbalance in monies spent on projects at a time when relative poverty in some sectors may increase as a result of job losses, social security demands, Community Care difficulties, and the likely problematic effects of these circumstances to minority sectors such as the disabled and pensioners, prudence must be brought to utmost relief in order to avert resentment or negative reactions.

‘Business sector sponsorship should, likewise, think twice in circumstances such as these. In the specific case of promoting annual Pride, the first official celebration of which ERG undertook in 2013, funding is important and government participated significantly at that time. And while 2013 presented a less problematic economic landscape, it is likely to be much more precarious for a number of years from now. Again, we cannot emphasise enough, and for the sake of the harmony we have managed to achieve despite the social changes on this front, that we should all exercise sensitivity and responsibility towards the Gibraltar community at large. If ERG’s counsel is sought at all regarding annual celebrations, we will clearly opt for community-wide participation where spending is minimal and LGBT+ persons are able to celebrate plural diversities across our wide society, along with citizens from across the whole spectrum. Because that’s where equality begins. Not in, perhaps unknowingly, promoting isolation or exclusivity, but  by decidedly opting for incorporation and connectedness.

‘Overall, then, the emergence of another strand of the LGBT+ community is positive. For everyone’s sake, however, patience and caution need to continue being the tonic as we carefully bring Gibraltar forward in acceptance and diversities. No sudden jerks, no sudden surprises; because consolidation doesn’t happen overnight. Government, City Hall, business sponsors and politicians in general should take careful steps forward; because otherwise we risk endangering peace by fostering growth in homophobia. This indeed, is what has occurred everywhere else; but we can learn from others’ mistakes."