Saturday, 13 November 2010

Age of Consent

I have been asked to write on this subject because arguments have now been heard in the Supreme Court. I have already done so in the past, on the 18th April under the headline "SEX" and on the 17th May under the headline "SEX and Danny Feetham, Moroccans and Mohamed Sarsi". Both these pieces are still available on this site.

The point that I would add to the views that I express in those to two pieces is that the referral gives rise to, at a political level, constitutional confusion. Constitutional confusion because the referral of the issue to the Supreme Court blurs further the principle of the separation of powers. It is already non-existent as between the Executive and Legislative arms of government. They are now being blurred between both these arms and the Judiciary. I would add immediately that this is happening through no fault whatsoever of the Judiciary.

A member of the GSD Government and so the Executive and Legislature, the Hon. Danny Feetham MP, put, in the recent past, the question of the different ages of consent, between heterosexuals and homosexuals, to Parliament in the form of a Private Members Bill, which the Bill intended to equalise. The Bill was defeated. The law remained unchanged; that should have been (unfortunately, in my view) the end of the involvement of the Executive and Legislature until and if that matter returned to them at some future date for reconsideration.

The reality is that it was not the end of their involvement. In its wisdom the GSD Government, which makes up the indistinguishable Executive and controlling element of the Legislature (because it is the majority party in Parliament), decided to promote and pass a law giving jurisdiction to itself, exercisable by the Chief Minister, to put constitutional questions to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar. One effect of this law is that it involves the Judicial arm of Government in legislative matters at the behest of the Executive. The result is that we have the Executive questioning the decision of the Legislature, which it controls with its majority, before the Judiciary. What regard does this pay to the principles of the separation of powers?

The Judiciary now has to decide whether Gibraltar's Legislature has or does not have to pass a law to ensure compliance by Gibraltar with part 1 of the 2006 Constitution, essentially European laws on human rights. In doing so, if there is a finding of incompatibility, the GSD Government will have castigated and shown itself up for not ensuring compliance and wrongly for having defeated Mr Feetham's Private Members Bill, when it had been entirely within its power to pass it and thus ensure compatibility. This is very different from a similar finding resulting from an individual citizen or a special interest group having brought the same question before the Judiciary.

Thankfully, the Chief Justice has wisely and astutely decided that the decision of what is the appropriate age is not one for him to decide but one for Parliament. This has avoided adding to the constitutional confusion that I write about. I am sure that there are many waiting to see how this issue evolves. What is clear is that the whole exercise, of taking the issue for decision by the Supreme Court, is costing the taxpayer (us) a large sum of money to decide something that is the responsibility of our politicians, who are paid by us to do so, to decide. They should be grown up enough to decide for themselves at no cost to us.


  1. It should also be noted that it was in the power of the GSLP opposition to vote in favour, as they claimed to be actually in agreement with it, but chose not to as a cheap point scoring exersize to try and embarrass the govt. People should take note of the GSLP's willingness to behave quite disgracefully and against their own declared principles in order to snipe at the Govt.

  2. Ghost says;

    Robert, firstly let me thank you for removing the post which was not written by me, but signed as Ghost; unnecessary! Given your action and with your permission I will continue to sign off as G.

    Age of consent. I believe that your interpretation and version of events in this matter are incorrect and driven by your unfounded belief that the GSD is yet again pursuing its own agenda and exercising its executive powers to suit.

    For starters the equalization on the age of consent is indeed a constitutional requirement, precisely why it was presented to parliament by Danny. But lets be real; here we have a bill which carries with it an enormous amount of moral responsibility and which more importantly is non-partisan / political.

    Here for the first time we had a bill independently brought forward precisely because the executive could not agree on a united policy, a bill in which the legislature could vote with their moral hat on and not the political one. The GSD did exactly that, whilst the GSLP decided that they would be the ones to ridicule the element of democracy and carte blanc refuse to entertain any notion of responsibility in the matter. There was no choice but to refer this to the judiciary (what you consider so wrong about this I do not know) for a decision and on whether the legislature has the duty to execute (which we all knew we it did), but more importantly it was a means to an end in which there is now an obligation by parliament to decide - as was intended in the first place.

    The irony is that it may well be the GSD that has to take a decision on this by itself as opposed to having a proper debate in a non-partisan manner, which in my view was required and in which both sides can decide and on such an important matter which is for once not a political issue, but relates to the moral fiber and belief of our community.

    Your persistence with the unchecked executive powers is wearing thin, although we have debated on it before; I'm all for reforms that create further accountability, pressure groups, associations, good press Llanito World, freedom of speech, all essential checks and balances, but you almost suggest that there are powers that ought to form part and parcel of any democracy that allow a right of veto over the Govt of the day. This is not practical or conducive to effective govt, nor does it provide good leadership.


  3. Llanito World-Robert Vasquez said...
    Ghost, Ghost, Ghost, What am I going to do with you and your so very outdated reactionary views? If you have any say in GSD affairs no wonder they are where they are in the polls!

    My version of events is accurate. The GSD voted again a bill sponsored by one of its own Ministers for god's sake. They then seem to realise that their position is unsustainable and find a different way of trying to end up where they should have been in the first place (as you yourself admit)! The actions of the GSLP/Libs is no answer to the failings of the GS. This will come to the fore if they are shown to have voted against a law that was intended to correct a Constitutional breach by an existing law.

    If, as you admit, equalisation is a constitutional requirement, then there is more force in my argument, thank you. I fear the moral argument does not have any force in the scenario that we agree on. It is an argument that has been resolved elsewhere in EuropeThe Supreme Court still has to rule on that matter so the jury is out in that sense.

    Your attempt to justify referral to the judiciary by arguing that it was inevitable is plainly wrong. There was no right in law to make that reference. The GSD Government had to enact a law to allow them to do it.

    I have explained in my piece what I consider to be wrong (politically) with an incumbent government referring this matter to the Judiciary. You either fail to or do not want to understand, no worries others will. You yourself admit that you feel the decision is a foregone conclusion. If you are right that itself makes the reference wrong as does your own argument that it is all a means to the same end. If you are right on this one and it could be proved that might be an abuse of process.

    The issue may be a moral one, but what makes you think that politics and law making are not frequently about morals and also not marginalising a sector of our community? By your argument many social changes over history, including the rights of women, should not have been permitted.

    my persistence on unchecked executive power is not wearing thin. It is making huge strides with public opinion. Do not underestimate it. I intend to continue the campaign, which I started when I first came back to Gibraltar from my studies n 1976, until I achieve the necessary reforms. I suggest that you simply accept that and my position and that you cease arguing with me about it. I am a left wing liberal with a massive social conscience and will die one, thank you very much.

    I understand from comments made to me in the street that your attempts at disseminating propagandist views favorable to the status quo are so transparent that they are not having the desired effect. Do you really want to carry on? If so I suggest you up your game and become more convincing.

  4. Ghost says:

    Robert there is no question of your liberal views, a political belief which in these modern times have had little impact in society, for the simple reason that it provides no real impetus principally on taking tough decisions. I too was a liberal as a student as most of us where I guess; I've since moved on. Happy though that you will die as one, I believe that like the green party they provide good ideas which are eventually adopted in main stream politics.

    With regards to the polls,you are aware that the GSD has been in power for 14 years are you not, it would be ridiculous if the GSD wasn't behind in the Polls, in my opinion they are essentially mid term elections, time will tell as it has in the past, I recall the GBC poll in the last election being a complete farce.

    There are comments on the street are there? Good, that can only be a good thing, I would not expect anyone who agreed with me to stop you and say so, but welcome that those who clearly are speaking to you and expressing their disappointment - tell me are these the same people who believe that Caruana is on the verge of executing his plan to sell Gibraltar to Spain...:)

    You remain as rigid as always and for this reason I am not going to enter into further technical issues on the matter, but as always I welcome the opportunity to appeal the the better judgement of you and others in Llanito World.

  5. Ghost

    There you are Ghost that is another difference. I was a revolutionary left of left wing socialist organsing, in the National Union of Students, and participating in every type of student protest from sit-ins to demonstrations. There again I was a student in 1970.

    Modern society has been formed by people with liberal views, open your eyes, to the last 60 years of history.

    Students seem to be waking up again, not that I condone any of the recent violent acts.

  6. According to GBC last night Charles Gomez the lawyer for the Evangelical Alliance produced a BMA report saying that young men of the age 16-18 were particularly at risk of catching AIDS from anal sexual activity but that the Judge would not accept medical evidence and the Attorney General withdrew the governments arguments on the health risks. Surely the main concern must be the health of young people? I agree that the rights of all minorities including gays, lesbians and transgender citizens have to be respected but if health issues are ignored there is something very wrong with the process.

  7. What pray makes you think heterosexuals do not participate in anal sex, could it be the fact that it is a crime? That is the next change in the law that would have to be on the agenda. Additionally,l I understand that not all homosexuals participate in anal sex but I am no expert.

    In any event, I fully understand why medical issues were not relevant to the decision that the Supreme Court has to take. If truth be told from what I read in the press I was of the same opinion on most of the arguments fielded against equalisation. I did not understand their relevance to the legal issue requiring decision.

  8. Dear Robert, thanks for clarifying the situation but if protecting young people from such things as AIDS is not what the age of consent case was about what was it about? What was the legal issue? I am confused.

  9. Anonymous at 21:38

    It was about a dry legal question: whether it is constitutional (and so within European human rights laws) to have an unequal, and consequently discriminatory, age of consent for two persons to have sex with the inequality being based on whether the relationship is a heterosexual one or a male homosexual one.

    In my view, issues of morality on this subject are for individuals and not the State or its the law, not least because human rights laws are the way they are. If a different view is taken it is for politicians to debate, make a value judgment and live with it. My acid test is if my son or daughter were to break a law prohibiting consensual sex would I report them to the police? If I would not then I cannot support the law.

  10. I agree that the state should have nothing to do with private morality but surely it has a duty to protect public health. Don't get me wrong I agree with equalisation but I cannot understand why the BMA report and medical issues were not taken into account. Without that the court case is not just "dry" it is downright sterile.

  11. Lets cut the niceties and talk plainly about this subject for a change ! The real root of this debate is whether the 'bible bashing' ultra-conservative right can prevail in imposing their outdated views on those who freely choose to live their lives as THEY wish.

    The answer to that question should of course be a massive NO but that will not dissuade certain individuals from arguing that black is white or vice versa. I am fed up of listening to the nonsense spewed out by the righteous who seem to have nothing better to do than seek to dictate how others should lead their lives.

    Danny Feetham has strived to take the GSD out of it's Ultra-prudish shackles and I applaud him for that.But with Caruana at the helm this party will always remain the arbiters of what is right /wrong (in his view) and will keep human rights in check to conform with their holier than thou beliefs...Lamentable !!!


  12. Anonymous at 21:56

    Of course the State has a duty to protect the population at large from mass infections but I do not think the argument is either about nor can it be reduced to that. On your argument let us prohibit all sex except under medical supervision for procreation only. Not even the Catholic Church preaches that.

  13. Whoa Robert are you not getting a wee bit carried away? all I said was that if there is a report saying that young men are more likely to contract AIDS from anal sex than and there is a court case about whether the age of consent for anal sex for men should be reduced to 16 some consideration has to be given to that report. Put it another way, why should it be ignored? I don't want to prohibit any sex at all, I am an athesist and I don't think that anyone has called me a conservative let alone an ultra conservative before. But if there is going to be a debate let's do it in a mature way. One thing I do not like is when people are not told all the facts and are shouted down for asking. I want to know why the BMA report was not taken into account in court and so far no one seems to be providing any answers. Maybe no one can explain it!

  14. Hey Anonymous at 22:14

    I have not called you anything. The Right/Left argument comes from another commentator. I have remained civil and patient. The case is not exclusively about anal sex for young men. I do not know why medical evidence was excluded. I have already suggested a reason, which may or may not be correct. I was not in court.

    All I can say is that the report that you refer to has to be considered by the politicians and weighed up by them in the context of whatever the decision of the Supreme Court is. if it decides that the age of consent has to be equalised then that report may militate toward increasing the age of consent for everybody but society will need to be prepared for the consequences. Perhaps we should start building a larger prison already?

  15. Anon 22.14

    A heterosexual is just as likely to catch aids from a promiscuous partner whatever their age. It's nothing to do with that, but just the 'Rights' belief that they are the moral judges of society...We need to come out of the middle ages quickly !!!!!!!!


  16. So what you are saying is that the judge does not have to consider the pros and cons and all that he has to do is rubber stamp the idea that the age of consent for two young men who have anal intercourse has to be the same as for intercourse between a man and a woman. Why have a case about that and why has it taken 6 months to get the case heard and if it was so easy why did Gibraltar Gay Rights, The Forieign & Commonwealth Office (represented by two lovely young ladies from UK) , the Union Unite and the Evangelical Alliance pay good money to expensive lawyers to attend the hearing? Sorry but there is something lacking in your analysis. maybe we should just wait for the Judge to give his jusdgement. If the point really is so simple I expect that he will have his judgement ready by 9 a.m. next Monday.

  17. Anonymous at 22:32

    Now you are either being simple and not understanding or wanting to understand the issues at all or just plain silly.

    I think you are also being highly disrespectful of our Chief Justice. The issues are more complex than you credit them. Just because the one medical issue that you have your one track on does not feature does not mean that there are not other complex issues to be determined.

    As to the expense you show that you either have not read the blog or you simply do not understand it. You have become a one track bore. I will not be publishing any more of your comments. Go to sleep is my advice and carry on living in your little world in which anal sex seems to feature highly.

    All you are trying to do is create an impression so as to propagate a belief that homosexual activity is dirty. I will not allow such a distorted and prejudiced propagandist exercise to be carried out so cynically on this blog unless you identify who you are.

  18. hmmm two women over 16 can perform any sexual act and it is legal, a man and a woman over 16 can perform any sexual act and it is legal (if an act of buggery occurs or not - no one will or should know as it is their private business) so if we are not opposed to the act of buggery (16 year old girls may be performing it with older men or women right now) or to the age of the people involved (16 year old girls may be involved with 50 year old men or women) then what are people opposed to? is it homosexuality??!!

  19. Ghost says:

    Look the issue at heart in my view and I suspect that one of the reasons that the matter was referred to the courts regardless of what RV might think, is to do with what message we as a community are prepared to send to our youth.

    It is quite clear that from a legal stand point we have it completely wrong, there is no equality here quite apart from the fact that the law needs to be addressed with respect to anal sex being illegal across the board.

    It is the moral judgement that I believe poses real complexities in our own mind and which creates cause for concern. This is not about how other nations around the world interpret the law,it is about how our community wish to present a hugely important legal requirement of equalization to our children and the effect and impact that this new base line may have of their lives.

    In the same way that we are not prepared to allow under 18's to vote or drive, what makes us think that we can hand the responsibility and publicly condone the right for a 16 year old to have anal sex, either heterosexually or homosexually.

    The Chief Justice has thrown it back to Parliament and has done so rightly, this is a debate not about law, but about moral judgment and how as a community we wish to present this very serious issue to our kids.


  20. Ghost

    The Chief Justice has not thrown anything back. He has to decide the issue of whether the Constitution requires that there be equality. The rest is not for a court of law to decide, elected leaders need to do that.

  21. Rafa: in court an interesting argument according to the Chronicle is that sexual intercourse is biologically not the same as anal intercourse and there is no discrimination under the Law. I have another example. I do not believe that cannabis is harmful and in the past have smoked it for relaxation. I do not drink but accept that others do for their own relaxation. Why should I be discriminated against. I agree with LW that the questions for the Chief Justice and parliament are not simple.

  22. The question is fundamentally a legal one; is an unequal age of consent lawful. The morality of engaging in a lawful activity is a matter for personal choice. Just as those who believe that adultery, drinking alcohol, gambling or eating pork are wrong are free not to do so, an equal age of consent will in no way require anyone to engage in anal sex.

    Arguments based on health concerns are likely to be mere scare stories. It is noteworthy that even the Government has not chosen to argue for inequality on health grounds. This may make it harder to see how an unequal age of consent can be compatible with the Constitution, but then most lawyers always wondered how that could be.

    Perhaps the more interesting moral question is this; given that an unequal age of consent would not be compatible with the ECHR, would it be a good thing for Gibraltarians to have to enforce their rights outside of Gibraltar? Would it be a good thing for Gibraltar to cause the UK to be in breach of its international obligation to ensure compliance in Gib?

    There is a more fundamental legal question that may need to be addressed too. It concerns the Constitution (Declarations of Compatibility) Act. This allows the govt to ask the Court to declare whether legislation is constitutionally compatible or not. I have misgivings about this in principle, although perhaps not as much as RV. But the real problem is that the Act purports to mean that, even if the Court declares an act unconstitutional, the act remains in force.

    In other words, Parliament has tried to say that, even when the Court says that it has exceeded its power, that doesn't matter.

    If the Court rules that unequal ages of consent are unconstitutional, the govt may try to continue them by virtue of this provision.

    There can be little doubt that to do so would be unconstitutional. An act cannot continue to be in force once it has been declared unconstitutional. If it were otherwise, the Constitution (which has provided the only method by which the govt can de required to go against the personal wishes of Peter Caruana, whether on women juries or ending homophobic housing policies) would be worthless.


  23. Dear Llanito World

    Gay people make me sick. Let them take their unnatural practices somewhere else and stop spending valuable tax payers monies in asserting their rights.

    Not Homophobic

  24. Anonymous at12:02

    If you are serious I have only pity for your lack of respect and love for fellow human beings. This lack is on a par with that of the Nazis. It is sad that on the day that we remember those who gave up their lives for freedom there are still bigots who think like you.

    I just hope that you are given the gift of a gay member of your family to help you rethink your views and achiever more happiness and less bitterness in your life. Not even the arch conservative Catholic Church thinks like you. It preaches tolerance and acceptance of the gay community.

  25. Do you really think that adding "Not Homophobic" at the end justifies your thoroughly repugnant views? I fail to see why some people feel threatened by equalising the age of consent. Nobody has suggested making anal sex compulsory. Those men who have no desire to have sex with other men would be under no compulsion to do so.

    The homophobic comments from the Evangilical group were not unexpected, but still unjustifiable. What IS offensive is telling a 16 or 17 year old who he can or can't have sex with.

    The law is defined as the means by which a person is compelled to respect the rights of others. It is NOT (however much some would like it to be) the means by which some impose their morality on others.

    Who does it benefit by not allowing 16/17 yr old men to have anal sex with other men? Who does it benefit to state, as the law does, that if 2 men are having anal sex, the mere presence of a third person makes them liable to imprisonment for life? Who does it benefit to prohibit women of any age from having anal sex?

    The overriding principle must be the rights of the individual. To those who find such practices "unnatural", "distasteful", "offensive", or "against the will of god" all I can say problem, don't do it then.

  26. I do not believe that the contributor at 12.00 is sincere. I have never heard in Gibraltar such vitriol against against any group of people. I have worked closely with the Evangelical Alliance and its legal team who were arguing against the extension of the exception to the bar on anal intercourse to men under the age of 18 and can assure that their motivation was purely the protection of young men out of a sense of Christian love. Whoever wrote the contribution at 12.00 either has an agenda which is precisely the opposite of what he purports to say or needs professional medical help.

  27. Hear, hear Robert! Anonymous 12.02's despicable statement does not deserve to be published in your forum.
    Such intolerance is the start of the slippery downward slope towards hatred of all that does not conform to a bigot's warped view of the world. Need we look further than the atrocities of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Idi Amin?
    We should embrace and celebrate the beauty of differences in humankind and how much it contributes to our rich and varied society.

  28. Hi Guiri ... long time

    On the Constitution (Declaration of Compatibility) Act 2009, I preface my comments by the statement that the views that I express are based on a political and not legal argument.

    The legal argument raises even more interesting questions. One of these questions goes to the very essence of the GSD and other political parties' arguments that Gibraltar has exercised its right to self-determination. A proposition with which I have never agreed nor have i ever accepted.

    The Constitution (Declaration of Compatibility) Act 2009 purports to continue the validity of laws that have been found by the Supreme Court to be contrary to the 2006 Constitution. Gibraltar's Parliament simply does not have the capacity to legislate this. Gibraltar's Parliament is not a sovereign Parliament. It is a subsidiary organ of local government.

    This itself begs the question why it is termed a "Parliament". I believe it had much to do with the propaganda campaign of the GSD, particularly that of the Chief Minister, to sell to Gibraltar the mistaken belief that self determination had been achieved. A belief that i have never subscribed to.

    Gibraltar's Parliament is the creature of the 2006 Constitution. The 2006 Constitution is a piece of primary English Legislation of the Privy Council. This means that Gibraltar's Parliament is a subsidiary or secondary legislature. Legislation passed by Gibraltar's Parliament cannot supersede primary legislation, which is what the 2006 Constitution is. Laws passed by Gibraltar's Parliament are, when compared to the 2006 Constitution, subsidiary or secondary legislation.

    The Supreme Court of Gibraltar is a British court of record established (now) under the 2006 Constitution. It is charged by the 2006 Constitution with the right and obligation to declare laws of Gibraltar's Parliament within or outside the 2006 Constitution on application by affected citizens. This jurisdiction is granted to it by primary legislation passed by the Privy Council. Once the Supreme Court has declared a law unconstitutional that law ceases to have validity; no law of Gibraltar's Parliament, which is secondary and so subsidiary legislation, can reverse that.

    This re-emphasises that Gibraltar's Parliament is not a sovereign Parliament as the final say on constitutional compatibility by provision of the 2006 Constitution itself is vested in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar.

    In this regard I am fully in agreement with your legal analysis. Additionally, at a political level, it disproves the GSD and other political parties' contention that Gibraltar has exercised its right to self determination. It so clearly has not. The acid test is, can Gibraltar change its own constitution? It cannot and as such it is not a territory that has exercised the right to self determination.

  29. LLVRW

    I am not entirely sure that the Order in Council giving the Constitution legal force can be described as "English". If I remember the TGWU case well, the Supreme Court recognised a distinction between the Crown in right of Gibraltar and the Crown in right of the United Kingdom. That does leave the admittedly uncomfortable issue of who is responible for advising the Queen in her role as Queen of Gibraltar, and in the case of the Constitution it was her British, rather than Gibraltar govt that advised her. So on that point our difference may be academic.

    As for whether Gibraltar has emphasised self-determination, I appreciate the desire to be able to say that this is so, and recognise the validity of the point that Gibraltar cannot change its own Constitution. But can I float this point; that in accepting in referendum the current Constitution, could it be said that the people of Gibraltar have freely chosen to remain associated with the United Kingdom, voluntarily accepting the limitations on their self-government that flow from that? If not, do Utrecht and the Spanish claim mean that self-determination is not really possible?

    And what about if Gibraltar seriously persued integration with the UK, which would be possible without any loss of self-government? Would that amount to self-determination? It would be different from the current arrangement, in that Gib would part of the state that controls its foreign affairs, rather than merely dependent on, or associated with it.

    The reason I connected was that I had just read the Lord Diplock's words in Gouriet cited in a case I was researching, about the function of the Courts being to resolve disputes, not to give advisory opinions or declare the law generally. Words that might have been heeded by those responsible for the 2009 Act.


  30. Anon at 13.44 says: "What IS offensive is telling a 16 or 17 year old who he can or can't have sex with". I do not think it is any more offensive that prohibiting persons of that age from driving a car or drinking alcoholic beverages or signing a contract or buying a house or taking a mortgage or voting or giving consent to an operation or having a fire arms licence or adopting a child or employing other people etc etc. In my view it is daft to say that a 16 / 17 year old has a right to anal intercourse and it is mischievous to say that anyone who says so is homophobic. Be careful about the person who wrote at 12.02 he / she is trying to stir up hatred and could just as well be an extremist gay rights activist as a homophobic nut case.

  31. Guri is right. If there are no particular health risks associated with anal sex why did the Government say that this was one of the reasons for its objection to equalisation in the first place only to resile from that position?. The GHA should make public what the Government's experts advice is on anal sex and AIDS HIV. otherwise this debate is based on people's personal conceoptions only and makes a mockery of our claim to be a sophisticated community.

  32. Anon 12:00

    Your views make me sick! In line with your thinking, poeple like you should be elminated from any form of civilised society whatever method! Perhaps we should speed up advancements on technology and invent the Time machine, thereby allowing us to transport you and similar to Medieval Times where no doubt you might feel more at home!

    Pray that you don't have a homosexual son / daughter. Life has funny ways of keeping us all in check!

  33. Guiri

    The Privy Council is the English Privy Council. Not a single Gibraltarian is on it. In this sense the 2006 Constitution is "English". There is a distinction between the "Crown in RIGHT of Gibraltar" and the "Crown in RIGHT of England". It is a legal distinction signifying what "RIGHT" an English legislative organ acts, not that the nationality of the act is different. There is one Queen only. She happens to be the Queen of England. It was the British Privy Council that legislated the 2006 Constitution. I agree that the distinction you make is academic.

    The choice at the 2006 Constitution was take this or leave it, which is no choice at all. To amount to self determination the choice cannot be pre-determined. It must be free and all options made available.

  34. Personally I think all this age of Consent debate is as a result of the current Government wanting to keep Gibraltar anchored in the past by doing everything in its power to make it appear as though we are a very catholic territory.

    Gibraltarians have always been very religious but we have to realise that we now live in 2010 and that a variety of beliefs is acceptable and democratic. I am not aware of statistics regarding religious beliefs in Gibraltar, but the Government should realise that they are a Government and not representitives of the Vatican. Government and religion should be divorced to a degree from one another. Religion CANNOT dictate Government policies in a modern democratic multi cultural society - something we like to brag abot at every opportunity.

    If the Church wants to enter the debate they should, on their own two feet and not being escorted by a crucifix carrying Government!

  35. Anonymous at 18:36

    You are absolutely right and I have said so in previous pieces that I have written which I have identified in this piece. That is a decision that our society must make by its elected government. The point is that if the Supreme Court decides that the age must be the same for all, then whatever age is decided upon must be applied across the board. Individuals must also be prepared to enforce that law and live by it. Shall we start building a new even larger prison? Our young are hardly going to stop having sex because of a law. They already do not.

    One question though should parents not take their share of responsibility to educate their children with the right moral values? It is not always the other persons fault when the issue is consensual sex.

  36. Piano: I have just caught up with this item and one thing that comes to my mind is as you say what was the pompously called "Parliament" doing before the age of consent was being debated last year. Did they get advice from doctors, social workers and other pofessionals who deal with young people? Did they have statitics to hand? Did they call a select committee to investigate? Were experts questioned? Who advised the government and the opposition on any of these issues and the question of international obligations? I think that our lazy so-called parliamentarians did nothing of the sort. No they used the debate to score measley poltical points against each other and that is all that they do and are not even very good at it. I think that the third world village pump type of debate that actually happened should be put on line (Hansard). Then we will see what a bunch of arrogant clowns we have elected (with some exceptions). The F&CO already know and that is why they showed up for the court case. In London they obviously dont trust the Gibraltar parliament to do its homework. Decolonised constitition, ny a***!

  37. Lets get real. Some of the contributors on this subject must live in cuckoo land. We are in 2010 and little Gibraltar has, for better or worse, caught up with the rest of the western world as far as sexual attitudes are concerned. No matter what the Supreme Court or Parliament decide, the youth nowadays will continue with the sexual behaviour they have been carrying out over the past few years.

  38. In my view everyone is entitled to have their opinion, and share it freely, regardless of how disgustingly liberal / alarmingly conservative it might be.

    In respect of the current topic, people’s views on gay teenage sex aged 16, are in my view wholly irrelevant. The issue is how are we being governed on this matter? Not well I think (either by our government or opposition)

    Ghost - I think there is an important fact absent from your analysis which LW touched on in his original article.

    The fact of the matter is that this matter has been to parliament - been voted on - and been defeated.

    Why then is the Government taking it to Court? Was it because they desire an outcome that they did not achieve? Strange that, not least when it seems they have no problem in whipping Government Ministers in to line for a vote for ordinary business. Oh but wait a minute – the guy who doesn’t want to vote yes on the law he needs to pass, is the guy that normally does the whipping. But why do we need to change the law – our newly self-determined parliament have voted on the matter, and thus we are governed!

    Well, what if they know that if they don't change the law, it will be changed for them. Gosh that might be a bit...well awkward...seeings as we have now exercised our right to self-determination - have a new and modern relationship with the UK and all that.

    Obviously the opposition smelt a nice big juicy rat, and goodness me the opposition are not a bunch of chaps for putting the welfare of some of the most vulnerable members of our community and their own manifesto commitments before political opportunism...oh no no no.

    Thus we construct another way of getting the law changed faster than you can say, brought-us-to-the-brink-of-direct-rule.

    So nervous is he, that one of the best election catch lines might be thrown back in his parties face, he has even started paving the way, just in case it does happens…

    Hmmm lets see, Newswatch May 29th this year “The UK regularly passes Orders in Council making laws in the overseas territories, in the case of Gibraltar they have always agreed, at least since we’ve been in office, to allow us to do things by local legislation rather than have them do it by Order in Council”

    That’s nice of them isn’t it? And nothing for us to worry about if it becomes direct rule in the end anyway.

    In my view, both Government and Opposition have behaved appallingly. They have done so in respect of an issue which affects young people who may be confused, vulnerable and very much alone.

    The matter of the “law” in this matter is well settled. No half baked lawyer can seriously believe our Court will depart from the consistent line of existing case law. Our CM has placed his personal moral quandary above the requirements of his office – to uphold and abide by our constitution. Our opposition have likewise, placed political opportunism above principle.

  39. Why on earth is it "daft" for 16/17 yr olds to be allowed to have anal sex if they feel so inclined? For many decades it has been accepted that 16 yr olds are able to make their own decisions about their sexual activity....unless they happen to be gay. This is simply unjustifiable.

    Also I do not agree that it is a decision for "society" to make. Do we really want to have what will amount to a referendum on homosexuality? It is incredibly patronising and offensive to the rights of the individual to dictate who people can have sex with. A 16/17 year old who wishes to have sex only needs the consent of his/her partner, not the consent of society as a whole. It is none of our business.

    Those who do not wish to have anal sex need not do so, they have nothing to fear.

  40. Anonymous at18:08

    My reference to society deciding what the age of consent should be through it's elected Parliament was not intended as patronising. It was purely a reflection of the reality that it is Parliament that makes laws in Gibraltar.

  41. Piano at 14:18, excellent piece! You should play your tune "forte", it deserves to be heard by everyone.


  42. Yes, Parliament makes laws in Gibraltar, BUT it cannot make laws to restrict or limit the rights of the individual. Once a person reaches 16 it is nobody's business who they have sex with, other than their partner's. As I said before; The law is the means by which persons are compelled to respect the rights of others. It is NOT a means for one section of society to impose its morals on another, and we must guard against attempts to do so.

  43. Anonymous at 21:21

    I am afraid that, so long as it is within its constitutional powers and not in breach of human rights as set out in Part 1 of the Constitution, Parliament can make laws to restrict and limit rights of the individual, to give a basic and silly example it limits the right to drive along any side of a road by legislating that one must drive on the right hand lane.

  44. Robert

    Once again you are spot on. Well done.

    (Anon as would lose job if name revealed)

  45. I do not agree with anon at 21:21. If a certain activity heightens the risk of a serious disease such as AIDS then it IS the government's business to intervene. The activity stops being a private matter and becomes a matter of public concern. The Attorney General is reported as saying that the Government does not have medical data that anal sex is one of the main cauises of the spread of Aids. He cannot have carried out any research at all because the amount of creditable material in medical journals is overwhelming.

  46. Why is it that we the tax payer have to pay for the costs related to the whole case of age of consent. As we all know the government and especially Mr Caruana is the one who has the problem. Why has the GSD "Government of Gibraltar" not enacted the equalisation of the age of consent. I thought that we live in a pluralistic society were all religions and believes are respected.
    The reality is that we only just tolerate each other but are far from respectable towards each other. Just look at some of the comments above!!
    The religious evangelical alliance have the right to put their point across but not the right to impose. The gay rights fraternity have the right to seek that a pluralist society do not discriminate against them.
    But a Chief Minister has not got the right to impose HIS will on all.
    The argument in this case is whether we are a mature western type of society and we tend to boast that we are Europeans or are we what Caruana wants as to be that is a secular society such as Saudi Arabia or Iran were the law of the land is based on the Koran.
    I am a straight person (ie not gay) but if homosexuals are fighting for their rights so be it.
    I believe that they should have all rights that a straight or heterosexual person have.
    I believe they should have the right to civil partnerships (Note not marriage)because marriage is for a man with a woman.
    The civil partnership should be equivalent in rights to that of marriage.
    I believe that the age of consent argument should not be whether one ie homosexuals and two heterosexuals having legal sex should be different. It should be the same. What the age should be is another question.
    Therefore although I have my own personal views as to how I deal with my own self is not up to in this case to Mr Caruana. I thought we was a democrat!!
    If he has his believes I respect them but let he not impose it on others. One last point why is the Attorney General taking this case to the courts? Shouldn't he be arguing in favour of the GSD Government? Well the fact is that Ministers like Feetham, Montiel, Netto and Reyes who voted in Parliament in favour of the equalisation of the age of consent should be objecting to the Attorney General putting arguments against their views or are they not members of the GSD government?? And before those pyschofans from the GSD jump I believe the GSLP/LIBs who voted against the equalisation has in hindsight done a favour to all of us since this would not have been debated at all and we would not have been speaking or have an article in this blog about the age of consent. By voting against the private members bill what they have done is to show up the division their is in the GSD government side on this debate. Their tactic if that is what it was on their part has worked. The sad thing about all this is that none of the Minsters mentioned above have made any representation to the courts as the Attorney General has done for Caruana to put their point of view to the Chief Justice. Who are they hiding from Caruana? Sad, Sad, very Sad.

  47. Many criticise Parliament and the parliamentians but they have all forgotten that they voted NO to the equalisation of the age of consent. Therefore they have done their job. Now the problem is the Governments since by have a rejection from Parliament (which by the way they should not have taken as a private members bill which to me was the big mistake since it is governments responsibility to abide by international obligations)and a split "cabinet".
    The ball is purely on the GSD government and taking it to court is yet another cop out!!

  48. Anonymous at )8:31

    Sexual activity as a whole increases the chnaces of Sexullay Transmitted Diseases, perhaps we should ban sex altogether save within a marriage that is policed by third parties to ensure fidelity?

    I think this argument is totally spurious and immature!

  49. I strongly disagree with 0831. On your arguments smoking should be banned, so should kebabs, all sports which carry any risk, driving, cycling....where does it end? Excess salt intake heightens the risk of we ban salt too? This is NOT a nanny state. The govt has a duty to educate people about health risks, and to spread the message of safe (or safer) sex, but no govt has the right to tell people over the age of 16 who they have sex with. And does any hypothetical risk suddenly cease on the man's 18th Birthday?

    And Robert, your analogy on driving may sound like a nice sound bite....untill you give it more than a second's thought. We all have a right to use the roads in safety and we therefore accept certain rules to ensure that safety, because our actions on the road have an impact on other road users. My actions in the bedroon however have no impact on anybody except me and my partner.

    No matter how many times a person has sex, or who they have sex with (as long as they are consenting over 16's) it makes no impact on society as a whole, or on anybody else.

    A man having sex with another man should be of no concern to anyone other than the participants.

  50. Fred says:

    Perhaps the homophobes and fellow travellers should re-locate to Afghanistan? I understand that the Taliban share their views on homosexuality, but conveniently keep "dancing boys" to help them through those cold nights on the Hindu Kush. This means that the homophobes & co. could conveniently turn a blind eye to certain priests, and the suchlike, who sodomise children against their wishes.

    Live and let live and stop using health and other spurious reasons to justify your arguements. As I have said on other posts: it's not as if the GHA has a credible health campaign on the STD issues. Then again they would have to advise about the use of condomns...

  51. If we are to believe Robert, anal sex does not increase the risk of AIDS. I have to agree with him because if not I will be accused of being immature and a homophobe and Fred will suggest that I move to Afghanistan. Or Fred might say that I am a closet homosexual like those Taleban who keep "dancing boys." By the logic of the PC tyrrany if I disapprove of sodomy I am actually saying that I approve of sodomite priests. This nonesense summarises the last few entries and one thing is for sure when it comes to issues of homsexuality no one can speak out without risking a verbal backlash. The next target in the Gay Rights agenda is adoption of children by gay couples and woe betide anyone who should question that. Ironically the less intelligent supporters of the Gay lobby and fellow travellers display more intolerance of ideas and debate than the worst Soviet commissars.

  52. Anonymous at 20:35

    You misquote and purposely misunderstand the arguments made, which does your cause no good.

  53. Buenas noches Llanito-World,

    "The 2006 Constitution is a piece of primary English Legislation of the Privy Council".

    Unfortunately, that statement's not legally correct in English Law - it's wrongly taken in other instances from Sir Robert Armstrong's evidence in 'GCHQ' and from Lord Fraser who mistakenly agreed with him.

    Primary legislation emanates from the Westminster Parliament only and takes the form of an Act - NOT judicially reviewable.

    An Order in Council is an exercise of the Royal Prerogative which is vested in the British Government and exercised by the latter in the Monarch's name - IS judicially reviewable.

    It's the UK Government, in the name of HM The Queen, exercising EXECUTIVE power - which is, as is well known, nowadays severely curtailed (through statutory provisions) but still employed in the governance of COLONIES and a couple of other simpler matters.

    Therefore, an Order in Council and the Gibraltar Constitution are one and the same thing and of equal legal weight.

    It follows, that any Act of the Gibraltar Parliament validly passed under the Constitution (i.e. is NOT in breach/conflicts with it) is of similar legal weight.

    An Order in Council/Gibraltar Constitution obviously rank below an Act of the British Parliament.

    Gibraltar's entire legal system emanates from the exercise of executive [political] power i.e. No. 10 Downing Street and an Order in Council is only the mechanism through which it is done.

    It's a Government decree (post 1688) and historically a decree of the Kings & Queens of England as Supreme Governors by divine right and might.

    One constitutional commentator, in the UK press, recently described recent Orders in Council as: "that most undemocratic of Tudor governance devices"...

    An Order in Council is very definitely 'totally English'.

  54. Fred says:

    Anon at 20:35,

    I may have been flippant, but inessence:

    Homosexuality may be wrong to you, but not to others - you do not have a right to have laws against it, and you do not have a right to discriminate against them as if they were somehow inferior. Al you have to do is exercise your right not to indulge in homosexual activity.

    Anal sex may be practiced by whoever wishes to indulge in it, and it should not be legislated against.

    The health risks associated with ALL sexual practices should be part of a public information campaign, and the use of condoms in combatting STDs should be part of the same campaign.

    Our young and not so young should be told that caring and committed relationships are good for them and good for all, but we have to live with the reality that we all make mistakes on the relationship front - many of us for most of our lives if divorce rates and extramarital activity in Gibraltar is anything to go by.

    Exploitative/coerceive sexual relations of any sort should be stamped on by the law, but this should be part of a broader review that addresses sexual crimes, and not the law pertaining to the age of consent.

    Finally, I am right-of-Ghengis Khan in political terms, so far from PC, but I am a libertarian and a libertine.

    PS - I would not be so cruel as to suggest that you relocate to Afghanistan at this time of year, my chums in our dear Gibraltar Regiment tell me its awfully cold, and I would not be that cruel to anyone.

  55. How is it that the CM thinks it is "draconian" to try and influence how much people use their cars in Gibraltar, or "taliban" to try and impose a smoking ban in public places, but fine to weigh in on what consenting adults do with each other in private.

    Its laughable to see the government floating these "public health arguments" when apparently public health is of no concern for smoking in public places.

    Double standards. This whole farce is simply about the chief ministers personal moral / religous problems with this issue. Nothing else.

  56. Each to his own, without judgment.

  57. To The blogger who said that the next thing is to have Gays adopting children and this comes from a straight person who is religious at that but will not impose my morals or other believes to others. Would you prefer to have a child starving or as seen on TV dying in the gut than to allow these children to have a happy life with a gay couple who will give him/her love and all their needs attended to?
    Do you think that Gay couples are having sexa at all times of the day therefore your fear of them adopting? Or are you that ignorant that you think that the child will be Gay just because his/her adoptive parents are Gay? Bringing these issues to the forefront is good because it exposes the heartless neo-cons and fundamentalist ideas from our "Christian" society. I am a practicing Christian myself but ashamed to be called this since the Christian church is hiding the FACT that priests and other within the church have abused children for years. So in actual fact those "religious people " arguing against gays or any other group adopting children (and saying this in a flippant manner like the blogger above) would prefer children to be in the "hands" of those priests who have abused children than having gays adopt these children??

  58. Anonymous at 01:28

    Thank you for your "buenas noche" and "buenas tarde" to you.

    In truth I was using an element of journalistic licence in the comment that you have replied to. I did not want to resort to dry legal argument out of deference to readers who are not lawyers. The fact that I am a lawyer does, it seems, not allow me such licence. I will summarise the dry legal argument as briefly and succintly as possible, so as not to bore the non-lawyer readers of this blog. I am happy to debate these with you in person and support my statements with a closer review of the case law mentioned. I would respect your anonymity to others if you did so.

    I accept that strictly speaking non-judicially reviewable primary legislation can only be made by the UK Parliament. I do not agree that Orders in Council are not "primary legislation". if such Orders In Council are the exercise by the Executive of its prerogative power to make laws, such as the 2006 Constitution, such laws are primary legislation, especially as viewed from Gibraltar (you admit that it is a piece of English law). Nowhere in the GCHQ case or in the subsequent Chagos Islands case is this disputed or is Lord Fraser's statement to the effect that an Order in Council is primary legilsation contradicted. Some of the argument in those judgments is that, precisely because it is legislation by the Executive (and so not subject to Parliamentary or other democratic scrutiny), judicial review is the only safeguard available to those subjected to such laws.

    I accept that they are not primary legislation in two senses. First that the UK Parliament can override an Order in Council by an Act of Parliament (exemplified in the Preamble to the 2006 Constitution which states that sovereignty can be given away by an Act of the UK Parliament). Second that in certain narrow circumstances, limited to subjectmatter, Orders in Council are susceptible to judicial review, usually for abuse of power.

    On the basis of both the GCHQ and Chagos Islands case an Act of the Gibraltar Parliament is judicially reviewable also on those same narrow grounds. This alone shows the deficit in self determination that the 2006 Constitution confers. It is well put at paragraph 53 of the judgment of Sedley L.J. (Chagos Islands case) in which the words (that can be found also in the 2006 Constitution) " ... for the peace, order and good government... " are categorised as words that confine the exercise of legislative power by a legislature to whom power has been delegated by an Order in Council such as Gibraltar's Parliament.

  59. An Act of the British Parliament is not judicially reviewable per se - parliamentary sovereignty. The exercise of any powers given by an Act of the British Parliament is judicially reviewable including delegated legislation.

    In GHCQ they tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that Orders in Council were in fact primary legislation (non-reviewable and the courts had no role to play) but that attempt to equate it with the same legal status as that of an Act of Parliament clearly failed - Lord Fraser's obiter remark has so far survived without any critical scrutiny in the courts. It would be legally correct to say that Orders in Council are part of UK Imperial Law.

    An Order in Council is part of English Law. Definitely. It's, however, wrongly assumed locally that it is primary legislation because it simply happens to be the primary legal source through which Gibraltar was formerly governed by the UK. The delegation of those powers started under the 1969 Constitution and recently in the terms of the 2006 Constitution.

    Your final paragraph, however, is most definitely correct.

  60. To Robert and blogger Buenas Noches, I understand you are both lawyers, so am I, but the discussion is age of consent and you both are now discussing primary legislation, order in council, constitutions etc. Hey can you both come down from cloud nine since I have not had any of you comment on the posting 13.24 above! So what is the opinion of both Learned friends on what the age of consent should be 16,17, 18 or 14 like it is in "Catholic Spain?!!!".
    And if you both want you could even comment on gays adopting children in certain circumstances.
    Remember I am a Practising Catholic and straight who will not imposed my beliefs on others.

  61. Anonymous at 11:08

    I have purposely avoided giving my own opinion on the issues that you raise because that is all it would be my opinion but I will give it for what it is worth. I believe in the equal treatment of all without discrimination on the grounds of gender.

    I see no objection to gay civil partnerships recognised in law so that all tax, inheritance and other legal rights should be enjoyed by gay couples in equality with heterosexual married couples. As to adoption the primary concern should be the well being of the child. This does not preclude gay adoption.

    On the issue of the age of consent, without psychological and/or sociological studies and advice, it is not possible to decide to reduce the age. My personal view is that unless and until there is expert opinion to support a reduction in the age, 16 is reasonable.

    I have obliquely previously expressed the view that increasing the age of consent is unworkable. It would be at odds with how society views sexual relationships today and the reality of the gae at which these start. If the age is increased, parents would need to change their own views toward thier own children, many parents would be acting hypocritically and larger prisons will need to be built because of the reality of what happens amongst the young everywhere!

    Increasing the age and not enforcing it against heterosexual couple and only enforcing it against homosexual couples, apart from being unconscionable behaviour by the State, would be an institutionlised discriminatory application. I believe that this would be capable of scrutiny and review by our courts.

  62. Thanks for your opinion and I agree with most of what you said. The reality is that thinking that everyone is equal is definately the way forward even if you are Christian, Muslim, Jew or Straight or Gay. This is showing a real democratic credentials. I remember having a discussion on a similar issue with a fellow student in relation to gender equality. The person happened to be a woman who was a feminist. I argued against feminism. Why? simple, because feminists are usually woman who campaign not for the equality of woman but for woman to be in a superior position to men. Therefore I argued the point and said that I believe in total equality and that no one should be above anyone in relation to sex, creed, race, religious beliefs sexual orientation etc etc. And I am convinced that if Jesus were alive today in our society he would be of the same opinion. We are all equal under the eyes of god and not one more equal than others. This message is directed at all those who argue the religion as a smokescreen for their prejudice and homophobic views and it includes Our Chief Minister who has been the one who has brought about all these discriminatory views and is frankly dividing our society even more.

  63. Ghost says:

    RV, I think I agree with the entirety of your last post! That'll be a first.

    I would say however that Gibraltar and our community are almost regulated by the very nature and closeness of our society and our fundamental principles, which in the main are driven by religious faith and respect.

    One might argue that although from a legal perspective 16 is the way to go, increasing the age might be a debate worthy of consideration, particularly given the impact that green lighting anal sex at this tender age will have. Quite apart from our legal obligations, there is the message that this new legislation will deliver and which needs to be considered.


  64. Anonymous at 13:12 and Ghost:

    I do not consider it is for the law to impose the strictest moral code. I consider that the law should impose a reasonable code, which both reflects trends in society but does not encourage the transgression of basic principles that are intended to protect the vulnerable in society.

    Strict moral codes are for parents to teach following their moral and/or religious judgment. In this regard I feel that some adherents to Christian religions have much to learn from our muslim and jewish breathren.

  65. Chapeau!!
    Parents are very important and in the society where I believe marriage is more of a comodity than a lifetime commitment (till death us do part) parents in many cases are missing or they are in battle with each other. Victims of this the child. I believe that this is the work and role of the religious institutions.
    They should be doing more in passing the message of family values ie respecting each others partners and to be more tolerant to each other than wasting time and effort in condemning gay couples.
    It is difficult as I said above for the catholic church (of which I am a member of)to try to inpart moral values when they have to clean up morality within.
    Why have they not condemned outright and kicked out those disgusting priest and others who have abused children in the past??
    Charity begins at Home!

  66. Fred says:

    Ghost, by the way you say: "particularly given the impact that green lighting anal sex at this tender age will have", it seems you are under the impression that as soon as the law changes we are all going to run out onto the streets and start having anal sex with each other like there is no tomorrow!

    Have you perhaps thought that a lot of people simply do not like anal sex, or are not intrested in it? Furthermore, some of my gay friends positively detest it, and prefer to indulge in other activities. (I beleive Noel Coward had an absolute distate for penetrative sex of any sort).

    The law should not even mention particular sexual acts; it should deal with the age of consent issue, and then address the antiquated sexual offences that were reported in today's Chronicle.

  67. Fred implies that he is in the 16 & 17 age group which is the subject of this debate. Who are you trying to kid, mate?

  68. Ghost

    you seem like a person with the GSD inside track.

    Perhaps you will enlighten us as to why the GSD are taking this matter to Court given that our parliament has already voted on the matter?

    Why is the GSD apparentyly second guessing parliament ? there is something more to all this is there not?

  69. Heartening to see open and democratic debate on this issue. What a difference from the pre-GGR days (i.e. before they established in September 2000). There is no doubt at all that, as an NGO, GGR has worked effectively in not only fomenting social debate, but in its campaigning strategies both at a local and international level. Perhaps the ONLY community group that has managed to corner our all-powerful Chief Minister and put him exactly where he did not expect to be - in the Courts, and socially and politically cornered! Hats off to Felix Alvarez for his patient, sustained and successful work in this community (which few people have, undeservedly, lauded) and for having had the wisdom and know-how to know when to present a hard activist front and when to switch rhythm the reasonable, judicial approach he now pursues. Having won over the media and public opinion, I am certain that in this gentleman Gibraltar has a citizen with a lot yet to offer in the advance of our community.

  70. This gentleman not only has balls but cares for this community and loves his country:

    "The protest went well. I was not arrested though subject to expected level of police attention! It happened at 11.40am Madrid time at the Spanish Parliament building - known as "Las Cortes".

    There are two symbolic lions half way up the steps to Las Cortes with machine-gun armed guards. I managed to climb up onto one of the symbolic lions and unfurl the Gibraltar flag with the slogan "Gibraltar is Free - No to Coercion" whilst accompanying this with shouts of "No to Coercion either from the United Kingdom or Spain. Gibraltar has the democratic right to decide its future for itself!"

    There was a media presence, so the photos should get out within the next few hours.

    I am bruised and hurting somewhat so will probably need to be seen in hospital once I arrive in Gibraltar, which is likely to be tomorrow some time"

  71. Ay yes, it's good to remember how Alvarez has consistently stood up for human rights across the board. It's easy to forget the hard work he did on pressuring for a Sex Offenders Register for Gibraltar, but it was Alvarez that brought that to the fore with his campaigning - if I remember rightly, Govt said they'd be introducing it (the Cassano case has just come up - but has anything at all yet been established?). About time Alvarez got some public recognition for his valuable and valiant work. I once spoke to him I remember and I remember him telling him that what mattered was seeing how, in time, the rights work he was pursuing would eventually become mainstream and Gib would have progressed. The man was right - and he still continues to be right. Chapeau Mr Alvarez!

  72. One further comment: while it's been good to see the FCO and UNITE in Court backing up Alvarez on the age of consent case at the Supreme Court, where were they in the hard times when noone wanted to even TOUCH the issue of same-sex rights in Gibraltar? Another sign, perhaps, of the success that this gentleman can chalk up in his campaigns, as otherwise I very much doubt that either of these new entrants would have had the courage. It took Alvarez's hard work and campaigning to make it 'safe' for them to enter the arena. And that's just a hard fact! Though now, ofcourse, there'll be many who want to pin the 'florecitas' on their lapel.