Monday, 17 May 2010

SEX and Danny Feetham; Moroccans and Mohamed Sarsi

Today, on reading a very enlightening letter in the Chronic, "Homophobia" written by Matthew Provost, I learned it was the "International Day against Homophobia".  In fact I learnt that such a day existed at all.  Also I was reminded, by the graphic examples quoted by Mr Provost, of  the suffering and cruelty of human beings against other human beings simply because of their sexual leanings.  A reminder of the suffering and cruelty of the Nazi regime against not only Jews but also other minorities, including gays:  an exaggeration? Surely only a matter of degree.

In an environment that his own party leader, Peter Caruana, has taken the issue of the equalisation of the age of consent for decision (a foregone decision and a waste of tax payer's money) to the Supreme Court, Danny Feetham, Minister for Justice, in defiance of his own GSD party and their lack of courage in not supporting his Private Member's Bill, has bravely supported that the age of consent should not be raised.  He has marshalled and developed arguments that you will have read first in this blog ("SEX" 18th April 2010).

One question this raises is, how can a party so deeply divided on such a fundamental social issue convince the electorate that it is a cohesive and properly functioning party?  The very fact that Mr Feetham had to bring the bill before Parliament as a Private Members Bill speaks volumes, especially when his own GSD party allowed it to be defeated.

Reading the examples of suffering and cruelty contained in Mr Provost's letter reminded me of the matters that Mohamed Sarsi, the Moroccan Workers Association President, was reported in the Chronic (12th May 2010) of having said recently.  He reminds us of a historical catalogue of wrongs against Moroccan workers in Gibraltar, briefly:

  • The reduction in the income tax deductions for children and their exclusion from  the family allowance given to locals;
  • The discriminatory regime on unemployment benefits;
  • The scrapping  of social support given to them in the form of a reduced pension that was scrapped;
  • Deportation of Moroccan workers on trumped up allegations based on false information;
  • confiscation of passports on registering at the job centre;
  • obstacles placed in the way of Moroccan access to the job market.
Despite this, Mr Sarsi does not preach confrontation or strikes or demonstrations.  He preaches, in the same speech, that it is crucial for immigrant workers to retain open channels of dialogue with the authorities, saying "If they close doors in your face, you will never be able to raise your voice and put forward your concerns and arguments when an injustice is committed in order to be able to reverse it".

It is a distinct message of patience, understanding and appeasement.  It is a message that is non-judgemental of others. In fact, it is a very Christian message and probably an Islamic one too (although I say this tentatively, as my knowledge of that religion is not extensive enough).  It is a message that Peter Caruana (and indeed the GWA, who are collecting signatures on a petition to raise the age of consent to 18) might learn from and apply to the debate raging on the issue of the age of sexual consent.  As quoted in  the blog "SEX" (18th April 2010) the Catholic Catechism preaches abstinence from sexual intercourse outside marriage for heterosexuals and abstinence generally for homosexuals (male and female).  The issue of criminalising these acts is massively different, as so cogently and courageously argued by Mr Feetham. Nowhere does the catechism interfere with what the law of the land should be. 

Mr Caruana and others in the GSD should reconsider their position.


  1. Brown Cow said...

    Great to see an elected politician standing up for something he believes in. It's so refreshing. It makes you realise how utterly pathetic the majority of our politicians are. Well done Mr Feetham, if you carry on like that people will vote for you on your own merits.

    But I do not agree with LW’s statement;

    >>"One question this raises is, how can a party so deeply divided on such a fundamental social issue convince the electorate that it is a cohesive and properly functioning party?"<<

    In my view it would be great to see our Government divided on more issues. One of the biggest problems we have in Gibraltar is that our politicians seem incapable of holding views that differ from the party leader.

    Oh for the day when we have leaders that feel like they owe their position to their fellow members of Government and ultimately the electorate, rather than leaders who rule like kings, and ministers who get paid £85k p.a. for what…..appearing at civil service award ceremonies? Name me the last time the Minister for Education, or Housing, Social Services, or (what’s the name of that bloke, you know the with the glasses, and the graying hair….can’t remember) actually made a POLICY announcement…..never that is when. So what are they there for?

  2. The fundamental rule of a free society is, mind your own business. Peter Caruana appears to be of the belief that pretty much everything in Gibraltar is his business. Danny Feetham recongises that this is not so. For that much at least, he deserves credit.

    The greatest dissappointment of the 2006 Constutition was the continuation of a parliamentary system of government in Gibraltar. It means that the legislature is controlled by the government. Backbenchers only slightly ameliorate this, as it most cases they want to be ministers and will vote as they are told in the hope of so becoming. A true separation of the executive from the legislature would ensure that the executive has to win arguments to get its way, and at least some chance of legislature members having indpendent minds. A separately elected Chief Minister, appointing other ministers with the consent of, but not from amongst the members of the legislature would have been a better way to go. But as that would increase the power of the people and decrease that of the government, was it ever going to happen?

  3. Abogadillo states: I know that this is off blog but it is an emergency. As you know I am a young poor lawyer ready to make a name for himself in the Supreme Court or in fiancial services etc recently back from the Middle Temple and one of the top 137 universities in UK. I have just seen an old white haired guy called Jefferey Robinson say on Newswatch that "lawyers are strange" in a context which was not meant to be funny and which sounded to me like he thought we were not honest (did you see him?????) Should I have studied dentistry?I despair as to my new profession. Are we becoming an oppressed minority like gays, lesbians and transgenders or like immigrants or Christians. Should the Bar Council not start a campaign against lawyophobia? I cannot contribute much to a fighting fund but I am willing to protest in the Piazza and paint placards. Please tell me the white haired guy with the unsightly warts and yellow teeth should not be taken seriously !

  4. Hi Abogadillo:

    No better or worse than the thousand of lawyer jokes that exist. Just Google "lawyer jokes" and see!

    Lawyers need thick skins, weren't you taught that?

  5. Abogadillo avers: No.

  6. Feetham was the future and the future is now!

  7. Caruana and Picardo are stale, get Feetham in.

  8. Anon

    You said: "Peter Caruana appears to be of the belief that pretty much everything in Gibraltar is his business. Danny Feetham recognises that this is not so."

    That may be true - but just wait until Danny becomes CM. He too will succumb to the 'Chief Minister syndrome' and will want to control everything. Danny all the more so because of his hunger for power as demonstrated by his rampant opportunism.

    But we don't need to worry because Caruana has said that Danny will only take over the leadership "over his dead body" and Danny is too ambitious to wait. He must be planning reviving his Labour Party or trying to negotiate some type of merger with another party. Watch this space. Looks like Fabian Picardo will be our next Chief Minister next year. Let's give Fab a chance, shall we.


    By strange he obviously meant "allegedly crooked". Former money laundering have been to Gib to speak in the past and their mantra is always the same: if you're investigating allegedly money laundering always look for the lawyer. Problem is many lawyers look after clients with large amounts of cash. Many allegedly can't resist the temptation to become as rich as their clients.

    Didn't you enter the legal profession because you wanted to make money?

  9. Abogadillo says: Dear Mark, I did not enter the legal profession just to make money. Don't get me wrong I always knew that the legal profession had more than a fair share of alleged slime balls, arrogant men who can be seen arrogantly strutting up and down Main Street or in Sotogrand. What I have never understood is why lawyers look after their clients cash as you say. Surely that is for banks and trust companies. But you are right I suppose some of the legal firms seem to be a bit too oppulent but I do not think that that means that there has been any wrondoing and the old guy who insulted the legal profession last night on newswatch should have his speaking fee withheld and be deported.

  10. Danny Appreciation Society: This was supposed to be a Blog in praise of Daniel Feetham and has been hijacaked by the upstart Abogaillo, the over scrupulous over sensitive and over excitable poor young lawyer. Grow a thick skin boy and let the rest of us fall over each other in eulogising our Minister for Justice and lambasting boring old guys like Peter Caruana and the tedious Fabian Picaldo. And who are you talking about when you say "alleged slime balls"

  11. Welcome DAS:

    This blog is not just in praise of Daniel Feetham. It covers more topics than that.

    Hi Abogadillo:

    I know no slime balls in the legal profession, please enlighten me? Are you anyone to judge this?

    I commend to you a good read of the rules governing client accounts. They do not permit the use of client accounts for what you allege lawyers use them for. If you have evidence to the contrary, you are duty bound to make a report to the Chief Justice.

    I would have thought you would have been more upset and annoyed by what the Chief Minister said which is not an accurate reflection of what the law is. watch out for the Bar Council press release and after that my next blog (I don't want to steal the limelight from the Bar Council!).

  12. Hi Brown Cow:

    On your comment that you would like to see our government divided on more issues, I am afraid this cannot be without a resignation. The system is that all members of Parliament who sit on the Government benches are ministers. All those who are ministers are bound by the principle of "collective responsibility". The likely why they are all ministers (aside for the higher salary that comes with that post)is that it commits them to government. This is another GSD (read Peter Caruana) broken promise who led the electorate to believe that the increase in numbers in Parliament under the 2006 Constitution would mean that we would have 2 backbenchers.

    Without a radical change of our executive and legislature we will not get what you (and me and many, many others) want.

  13. LW - It seems your recent posts have not had such a large feedback as usual.

    Would you be able to write an article on something more controversial, please?

    I am pleased to see you have taken on my suggestion of adding your name to your posts.

  14. Abogaillo

    "the old guy who insulted the legal profession last night on newswatch should have his speaking fee withheld and be deported," as you say was born in 1945. That means he's only a few years older than Llanito World who, in turn, is only slighlty older than me. Why not refer to him as "Jeffrey Robinson", "Mr Robinson" or "the guest speaker" instead of "the old guy".

    Llanito World

    You said you "would have thought you would have been more upset and annoyed by what the Chief Minister said which is not an accurate reflection of what the law is". Which part of the CM's sayings in particular are you referring to?


    As regards Danny Feetham, I repeat that in my view he is a rampant opportunist who must be stopped. He does not have Gibraltar's interests at heart but, instead, is hungry for power and will do whatever it takes to get his feet under the desk in the CM's office.

    Caruana must be regretting having given him the Justice portfolio with its high profile when he could have given him Housing. Poor Fabian Vinet got landed with Housing as punishment for coming a close second to Caruana.

    Maybe Caruana will switch them around in the unlikely event that the GSD get re-elected to cut Danny down to size in order to keep his promise that Danny will only take over from him as GSD leader over his dead body.

  15. Hi Orwell:

    I agree no as many comments as on other occasions but controversy arises, i cannot invent it or make it happen where there is none. Also all our political parties are rathjer quiet at the moment. I will do my best in the next blog.


    The Bar Coincil has clarified the regulatory position in the Chronic toady. I did so in a letter some weeks ago. I intend to write my next blog on the subject also, probably tonight. This may also prove more controversial to Orwell.

  16. The Women's Association should stop playing a dangerous political game by wishing onto others what may prove to be a heartbreaking exercise of having the RGP's involvement, in private matters of the heart, and interference with the right of teenagers to have and enjoy their right to a private life.

  17. I do not agree with the GWA idea that the age of consent should go up to 18 for heterosexuals. Neither do I think that the age of consent for anal intercourse should be reduced to 16. The laws as they stand do not criminalise young people but do set down clear red lines to put dirty old men from abusing young people. DO NOT TINKER WITH THE LAW!

  18. Hi anonymous at 11.32 and 14.46:

    Also as far as the Gibraltar Women's Association (GWA) is concerned women in glass houses should not throw stones.

    The belief that a parent should decide on prosecution is the height of perversion not worthy of a supposedly intelligent Woman's Association and less of one so connected to the Catholic faith. And to those who want the age of homosexual sex (not anal sex as this includes LESBIANISM. Peter Caruana's use of the word BUGGERY was PROPAGANDIST and purposeively INFLAMATORY)should think this through carefully, as it may be their own son or daughter (leaving aside personal morals and religious considerations) that may end up with a criminal record 9at least) or possibly with a prison sentence, which is carried around fro a young age for the rest of one's life, for commiting waht in the eyes of the Catholic church is a sin that can be FORGIVEN. Where is the compassion preached by Catholicism. I relayy despair at such BIGOTRY. ?

    It is significant that Catholic priests have stayed out of the debate. If the Catholic Cathecism preaches sufficient maturity at 14 for a girl and 16 for a boy to marry the Catholic church can hardly argue that they are not mature enough to have sex at that age (not that I agree that they should or agree with this proposition of the Cathecism).

    The position of the Catholic church is consistent (whther realistic or not) namely no sex for anyone outside marriage and since homosexulas cannot marry ... the answer is obvious. One can agree or disagreee with this position but at least it is consistent.

    What is inconsistent is Mr Feetham's position that anyone under a certain age, I believe that he metioned 21, can have FREE sex with anyone else between the ages of 16 and 21 with impunity bit if you fall outside this age bracket by even 1 day one goes to jail. How many parents will agree to this, whether their son or daughter has heterosexual sex or homosexual sex? Let he who casts the firts stone come forward.

    It is time for a petition to counteract the uninformed, dangerous, misguided, prejudice and hypocritical (especially by at least but not necessarily limited to one who is seeking signatutres) petition of the GWA.

  19. When and where do we sign against the GWA's petition???

  20. GWA's religious vigilantes are seriously misguided! Criminalising certain activities only makes them seem 'cooler' to do.. or weren't any of these ladies ever teenagers??

    Any responsible parent tries to guide their kids but (as a father of 3 myself) you can only hope for the best! I congratulate Danny Feetham for going where his other GSD colleagues fear to tread!!!!!!!!!!...Maximus

  21. Daniel Feetham21 May 2010 at 23:38


    I hope you do not mind my joining this discussion. I am grateful for some of the comments and encouragement but it is important that people ignore the messenger and focus on the message. This is one of the most important debates in recent years and I feel very strongly that the final decision has the potential to create huge problems for young people. If any of you want to read an excellent article on some of those consequences I would invite you to read an article that appeared in the Economist last year (I hope the link works).

    The reality is that no one would be talking about an increase in the age of consent, if some of us had not proposed to lower the age of consent for homosexual men to what it has been for lesbians and heterosexuals for over 120 years. I feel very strongly that the current moves to increase the age of consent has nothing to do with equalisation (on the contrary it is motivated by an inability by some to accept equalisation by lowering the homosexual age of consent) and has nothing to do with protecting young people from older men/women (otherwise it would have manifested itself long ago). Above all it risks criminalising young people.

    To raise the age of consent would take us in a completely different direction to the rest of Europe. Spain has an age of consent at 13, Italy and Germany at 14, France 15 and Vatican City (presumably not for homosexuals) at 12. In Europe only Turkey and Malta have ages of consent at 18. Even the UK, where the age of consent is 16, sex between anyone over 13 and under 18 is not an offence. In Gibraltar sex between 15 year olds is an offence. Therefore, having an age of consent at 16, where sexual activity below that age is a criminal offence is already tough enough when compared to other jurisdictions and we should not make it even tougher for young people.

    One of your contributors found my comments on Romeo and Juliet clauses inconsistent. The comment was made in the context of my trying to show that the Women's Association petition had nothing to do with protecting 16 and 17 year olds from older predators and that they simply wanted to criminalise sex at that age. The reason for that is that if their concern is older predators then you can deal with that concern by having an age of consent at 18 which does not criminalise sex for young people in the 16 to 20 age group. This is what the UK has done but with an age of consent at 16 (i.e. they have not criminalised sex between anyone under 18 and over 13). This is not acceptable to the WA and that shows that the petition has nothing to do with predators but with the desire to be able to say to a 16 or 17 year old, you cannot have sex because it is illegal! As for me, any referendum to increase the age of consent should, at the very least include this safeguard even though I am in favour of simple equalisation 16. On these kind of issues it is very dangerous to adopt a die in the ditch attitude and if people want an increase the age of consent, my duty is to try and look for ways in which young people are protected in the process.

    Finally, I just wonder whether when a number of years ago there were politicians saying we should equalise the age of consent, homosexuals out there understood them to mean consulting on whether the age of consent for heterosexuals should be increased or whether they had legitimate expectation that those same people would support the move to treat homosexuals as heterosexuals have been treated for 120 years. That to me smacks of sitting on the offence to avoid offending anyone.

    Thanks for printing my views.

  22. In any case, is the Catholic Church in any position to judge anyone??????????? 'Do as I say but not as I do' would seem to be their doctrine!! Criminalise a 17 year old boy n girl for doing what comes naturally and turn a blind eye to the Priest who is having his way with innocent children of both sexes.I cannot stand this vile hypocrisy.... If they geniunely 'believe' (which I don't)...then the day of judgement is surely coming ??? ...Maximus

  23. The messenger and message are equally important. Well done!

    The GWA have got the wrong end of the stick and could well land the government into further serious trouble by advocating for a blanket law that interferes in the private lives of all our citizens, aged 16 and 17 years, in a disproportionate way which is not justifiable in a demcratic society.

    The homophobic discrimination institutionalised in our criminal laws should be abolished. That is the real debate.

    The law currently criminalises homosexual men and it should not now seek to criminalise heterosexuals falling within the same age group. That is the dangerous and fallacious consequence advocated by the GWA.

    A populist referendum on this could turn out to be illegal and irrelevant, a waste of time and tax payers' money, and only serve to cloud matters even more.

    Popular support for an increase in the age is not per se a valid legal justication.
    It may well serve to reinforce even further the case against misguided or misinformed prejudices collectively reflected in such a sad and poor result.

    PS - To Basil McBrush - Por favor confundas los temas y el debate bajo este titular. Tnx

  24. Feetham should be awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. When Peter the Great finds out that his is contributing to this forum he will be punished with 10 lashes!!!

  25. PS - To Basil McBrush - Por favor NO confundas los temas y el debate bajo este titular. Tnx

  26. Hi Daniel and Basil Brush:

    I also welcome the comments and contributions of the Minister for Justice and the first class recognition that such an intervention provides to this blog. I agree more democracy, more debate and more interaction between our elected government and those who elect them. Aloofness and a snobbish attitude do nothing for democratic government.

    By the way I understand from Madrid that the extensive cuts made by the Spanish Government on public works contracts are to affect Gibraltar. I am told that there is no central Government money to build the Spanish side of the Gibraltar Air Terminal! remember you heard it here first didn't I say on that not a brick has been laid on the Spanish side? Let us see what develops on this front!

  27. Not surprised about the news on Spanish funding (or lack of it!)for the 'White Elephant' Airport...This project must be the greatest 'folly' ever undertaken and the reasons why it ever saw the light of day are at least questionable!!The 'Andalus' experience and countless more that preceded it should have served as proof that Gib can never have a 'Gatwick' but try to tell that to Holliday and Caruana...The huge amount of money being wasted on this ego trip could have been much better spent on improving the 'slum like' conditions that many in Gib live under.Try telling that to those who were born with a silver spoon rammed firmly down their throats though !!!!! Maximus..

  28. Mark

    Danny Feetham may or may not display "rampant opportunism", and it may be if he became Chief Minister he would start to believe that everything in Gibraltar is his business. But on this topic, he's taken a laudable position. If he's taken it for opportunistic reasons (on which I take no position, save to observe that it's hardly the sort of issue that will get people to start clamouring for him to be CM), well at least that is better than taking a wrong position for opportunistic reasons. And maybe he would starting putting his nose into pies that aren't his (if I mix my metaphors) if he were CM, but that he shows some sign of understanding the need of government to mind its own business surely gives some room for hope?

    Having previously commented anonymously, I will now leave my name; David Hughes

  29. D-d-d-david Hughes! Gassspppppffffzzzzz!!!!

  30. Can you imagine Peter Caruana sharing a forum with Basil Brush (or McBrush)? I remember when PC made a fool of himself in Plymouth by refusing to have a picture taken with a chap dressed up as Sir Francis Drake. PC said that it was "undignified". In Daniel Feetham we have a refreshing change from stuffed shirts like PC but also Keith Azzopardi and Fabien Picardo who also rate themselves far too highly. Well done Danny and keep 'em coming McBrush.

  31. Daniel Feetham once again sets an example to those politicians who hide behind their party leady or logo. Where is Keith Azzopardi? Why does he not contribute to this blog? Does the PDP not have any views?

  32. Our Pete is probably the biggest exponent of 'snobbery' in the history of the Universe!! That of course leads to 'slavish' devotion from those who need to feel inferior and crave a 'pleblike' existence.His parrot-like use of words like 'Dignity' are nothing more than a self serving 'paja'(or straw)and are cringeworthy beyond description!!!! 14 years of suffering this 'agony' must come to an end..... Please!!!!!!!!!!! Maximus

  33. The Chief Minister is nout but a tiresome arriviste. The MP Gisella Stuart saw it and hand bagged him (metaphorically speaking) during a Select Committee Inquiry but his derailment of the Joint Sovereignty plan changed the F&CO strategy and they are now trying to give him rope to hang himself with. There is an intersting thread in another LW blog started by Filoneno which tells you exactly how the noose has been tied.

  34. Anon

    You are wondering how the 'White Elephant' Airport project, " the greatest 'folly' ever undertaken", ever saw the light of day. Probably for the same reason that the Rosia Tanks were destroyed and various other fiascos have occurred in our autocracy.


    Are you the same Maximus who used to write that excellent weekly column in the NP some years ago? If so, I know you are an excellent writer to will make an important (and very witty) contribution to debates.

    David Hughes

    Who? Maybe that lawyer chap who used to live here and who is blamed by half of our population for having to do jury service now?

    Now that the Min for Justice has joined this blog, will he take up the challenge issued by Anon:

    "I invite Mr. Feetham as minister for justice to look into allegations that the police and the FSC are being pressured not to investigate certain cases of alleged misconduct in high places. We all know what these allegations are..."

    Now that he knows about it he is duty-bound to try and uncover what is being suppressed. Or has he already landed himself in enough trouble with Pete for participating in Llanito World's blog in the first place? Oh dear, between a rock and a hard place now.

  35. Peter says

    Mark you seem to be obsessed with Danny Feetham! Every other contribution you mention him. Are u in love but in denial or something? Propose to him and be done.

  36. Not at all (what a ridiculous thing to say). But now that he has entered the fray by joining this debate he is duty-bound to investigate Anon's allegation.

  37. The GWA campaign is typical of the intolerance which exists in smaller-minded Gibraltarians. What makes it worse is the semi-official status accorded them and other non-representative "representative" bodies, who have long names, "spokespersons" and half a dozen members.

    The GWA is only representative of a tiny minority of sectarian women of a certain religion and a certain age. It is laziness from the media and convenience for others that allows their troglodyte views to be splattered on our front pages. Physicians, heal thyselves!!!

    Where is the previously vocal "Voice of Gibraltar" these days? Why the silence from these poor lambs?