I've been helping this week the LGBT greens in the South West get out some of our Green party news releases - it was good to see one of our releases make the Gibraltar Chronicle - I have to note I was astounded to discover the gay equalisation at 16 vote was defeated and think all pressure needs to be put on Gibraltar.
Photo: View from Whiteshill
The Gibraltar Parliament, which is part of the UK South West region in the Euro elections, this week voted to defeat the gay age of consent equality bill, which would have established an equal age of consent of 16. SW Greens have joined Green party spokesperson Peter Tatchell in calling for the UK Government to intervene.
Ryan Cleminson, Coordinator of the SW Greens LGBT group, who has written to David Milliband, said: “The Government of Gibraltar is required by European Court of Human Rights rulings to equalise the age of consent for same-sex relationships. I urge David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to intervene and let Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Peter Caruana know that Gibraltar cannot be allowed to evade its human rights obligations."
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "The equalisation legislation should have 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. 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?"
Meanwhile there was another shock to discover the new Tory Euro alliance - basically Tory MEPs Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling have formed an alliance in the European parliament which has a not very pleasant agenda. They are among many Tories taking their seats after the June 4th Euro Elections - here is what Ryan had to say: "The proposed new alliance between our elected Tory MEPS and far right Poland’s homophobic Law and Justice Party (PiS) calls into question David Cameron’s so-called conversion to progressive Conservatism. Jewish, gay and women voters will all be appalled to see the Tories planning to work with such a bigoted party.” See Guardian report here.
Indeed already this new anti-federalist group in the European Parliament led by the British Conservative has suffered a setback after one of their MEPs reversed his decision to join its ranks. However the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, spearheaded by the British Conservatives, have successfully surpassed the threshold required to form a group (25 MEPs from a minimum of seven EU countries) - however commentators say that the group is fragile as it has a large number of UK Tories and from the Polish group - let's hope so - I do not think it is good for Cameron to be mixing with such views!!
Meanwhile, the celebrated Swedish Pirate Party MEP, Christian Engström, has decided to join the Greens instead of the Liberals as they "had gone furthest in their work relating to 'the politics of information".
Greens Co-Presidents Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit welcomed the new member, saying they were "delighted to welcome the Swedish Pirate Party, which shares our principles and values in defending internet users' rights. Christian Engström will have an independent status within our group and he has indicated he will support the Greens/EFA position in areas where the Pirate Party has no agenda."