Current Affairs

Lesbians take Gibraltar to court

Natalie Relph July 12, 2007
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A lesbian couple are taking legal action against Gibraltar’s government for denying them joint control of their rented apartment.

Nadine Rodriguez has applied to the High Court for a judicial review to reconsider the non-inclusion of her partner in the tenancy agreement.

As things stand, should Ms Rodriguez die, her partner has no legal right to the apartment and could be forced onto the street.

The chairman of Gibraltar’s Equality Rights group (GGR) Felix Alvarez said:

“Preventing a same-sex couple from holding a joint tenancy is discriminatory and behind-the-times. Decisions of this sort are only made by politicians with narrow-minded backward views.”

GGR was established in 2000 and, in a community of 27,000 people where politics is dominated by the issue of sovereignty, they are openly campaigning for rights equal to those enjoyed by gay people in the UK.

The Gibraltar government argues that they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation as the laws also apply to heterosexual unmarried couples.

But heterosexual couples can marry.

Gibraltar is a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom, but the government in London have no control over social policy.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of gay rights group OutRage has accused Gibraltar government of state-sanctioned homophobic discrimination.

“After three terms in office, Chief Minister Peter Caruana has failed to provide any significant progress for Gibraltar’s gay and lesbian citizens.

“Same-sex citizens have no legal recognition or rights in Gibraltar. Civil partnerships do not exist,” he said.

“The Chief Minister is out of touch, not only with social progress in the rest of the European Union but also with the greater acceptance of gay people by Gibraltar’s residents.”

Despite claims of British heritage and values Gibraltar’s legislation tells a different story.

“The government’s only recent commitment has been entirely negative and hostile. It has stated that it will only introduce reforms where it is legally compelled to do so,” Mr Alvarez commented.

“Barely eight months ago, Mr Caruana ignored GGR’s formal representations to include sexual orientation in the anti-discriminatory clauses of the new constitution.”

Mr Alvarez said that if the Rodriguez case is successful it will be a huge turning point for LGBT rights in Gibraltar.

The GGR will support the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary.

Ms Rodriguez will be represented by human rights London lawyer Rabinda Singh of Matrix Chambers.

The case will be heard in the autumn.

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