LGBT rights in Gibraltar

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LGBT rights in Gibraltar
Location Gibraltar EU.png
Location of  Gibraltar  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1993,
age of consent equalised since 2012
Gender identity/expression Transsexual persons not allowed to change legal gender
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation only (in employment only) since 2005
Family rights
Recognition of

Civil partnerships since 2014

Same-sex marriage since 2016
Adoption Legal since 2014

In the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1993 and the age of consent was equalised to 16 in 2012. The Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled in April 2013 that same-sex couples have the right to adopt. Civil partnerships have been available for both same-sex and opposite sex couples since March 2014. In October 2016, Gibraltar voted to legalise same-sex marriage. The Civil Marriage Amendment Bill 2016 was passed unanimously in parliament.[1] It received Royal Assent on 1 November and took effect on 15 December 2016.[2][3] The first legally recognized same-sex marriage in Gibraltar took place the next day.[4]

Same-sex sexual activity and age of consent[edit]

In Gibraltar, the age of consent for all sexual activity regardless of sexuality and/or gender was equalised at 16 in April 2011, when under Supreme Court order the previous law – under which the age of consent for gay males was 18 – was found to be unconstitutional. Heterosexual anal sex was decriminalised at the same time and the age of consent set at 16.[5] Gay male sexual conduct was decriminalised in 1993.

Political campaigning prior to the 2007 Election was prominent with equality rights organisation Gib Gay Rights (GGR),[6] headed by human rights campaigner Felix Alvarez openly challenging the incumbent Chief Minister, Peter Caruana for more rights in Gibraltar for gay and lesbian people, and others who are discriminated against.[7]

Campaigning on the issue of an equal age of consent of 16 had been strongly undertaken.[8][9][10]

The issues were raised at the Foreign Affairs Committee enquiry into the overseas territories in 2008, where they concluded:

We recommend that the Government should take steps to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender status is made illegal in all overseas territories.[11]

On 18 May 2009, the Gibraltar Parliament approved by Government majority leave for a Private member's bill, proposed by the Minister for Justice, to equalise the age of consent. This was opposed by the GSLP/Liberal opposition for technical reasons due to the way the Bill was written. The Government gave its Members of Parliament a free vote on the Bill. It was defeated, as the Government members were split on its approval, and the opposition members all voted against it.

The influential Gibraltar Women's Association (GWA) has called for the age consent to be levelled at 18.[12]

On 1 October 2009, new proposed legislation would enable the Government of Gibraltar to ask the Supreme Court to test whether existing or draft laws are compatible with the Constitution. This would provide a simplified, purpose-built mechanism to deal with contentious issues such as the age of consent.[13]

In March 2010, the Government of Gibraltar was seeking an opinion from Court of the age of consent legal issue to see if the law is discrimination under the principles of the European Council.[14][15]

On 1 April 2010, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband pointed out that if a British overseas territory is unwilling to meet 'international obligations' such as equalising the age of consent it may be imposed by an Order in Council.[16][17][18][19]

On 8 April 2011, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled that a higher age of consent of 18 for all gay sex was deemed unconstitutional, and thus mandated an equal age of consent of 16. Also at the same time decriminalised heterosexual anal sex and set the age of consent at 16 for that as well.[5]

In August 2011, the gender-neutral Crimes Act 2011 was approved, which sets an equal age of consent of 16 regardless of sexual orientation, and reflects the recent Supreme Court decision in statute or law.[20] The law took effect on 23 November 2012.[21]

Recognition of same-sex unions and parenting rights[edit]

Adoption and assisted reproduction[edit]

On 10 April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that section 5 (2) of the Adoption Act was in violation of the Gibraltar Constitution thus in effect, de jure legalising LGBT adoption in Gibraltar. The Government has announced that they plan to amend the law as soon as possible and the Care Agency will take appropriate measures to allow gay couples to adopt.[22][23] The government did so the following year as part of its civil partnership law (see below).

In June 2017, the Gibraltar Health Authority has approved an amendment to its In Vitro Fertilisation Policy to include female same-sex couples.[24][25]

Civil partnership[edit]

In March 2014, the Parliament passed a civil partnership, granting same-sex couples most of the rights of marriage, including allowing the adoption of children by civil partners, as mandated by the court ruling in 2013.[26][27][28][29][30]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Same-sex marriage became an issue of interest for the government after their re-election in 2015. A Command Paper to that effect was published in December 2015 and a public consultation was held, whilst talk of a possible referendum on the issue was not ruled out.[31][32] The leader of the opposition Social Democrats Party announced his support for same-sex marriage in January 2016[33][34] days before the government ruled out a referendum.[35] An inter-ministerial committee was set up in March 2016 to listen to stakeholder concerns and more than 3,400 responses to the discussion were received.[36][37] The government published a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in August 2016.[38][39][40]

On 26 October 2016, the Marriage Bill was passed in the Gibraltar Parliament with unanimous support from all 15 members present during the vote.[41] The bill received Royal Assent on 1 November and took effect on 15 December 2016.[42][43] The first legally recognized same-sex marriage in Gibraltar took place the next day.[44]

Discrimination protections[edit]

The 2006 Constitution does not mention sexual orientation. The proposals, made public early March 2002, specifically omitted direct reference to "sexual orientation" as a category to be constitutionally protected. Other categories are clearly included.[45]

The Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party government elected in 2011, has announced plans to include sexual orientation under the goods and services anti-discrimination section (sexual orientation is already covered in anti-discrimination law under employment since 2005). The party renewed this commitment in their manifesto for the 2015 election, in which they were re-elected.[31]

Hate crime legislation[edit]

The bill to amend the Crimes Act 2011, that will criminalise both hatred and harassment on the ground of sexual orientation as a hate crime, was approved by the Gibraltar Parliament on 19 September 2013 and given Royal Assent on 25 September. The law took effect on 10 October 2013.[21][46]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1993)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2012)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2005)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No (Under consideration)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2013)
Same-sex marriage(s) Yes (Since 2016)
Recognition of same-sex couples (civil partnership) Yes (Since 2014)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2014)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2014)
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes (In the British Armed Forces since 2000)
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes (Since 2017)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Banned for heterosexual couples as well)
Right to change legal gender No (Under consideration)
MSMs allowed to donate blood Emblem-question.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gibraltar votes unanimously to legalise same-sex marriage". Gay Times. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 [No. 22 of 2016
  3. ^ Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 - Notice of Commencement
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b JUDGE RULES: AGE OF CONSENT IS 16 FOR ALL Archived 27 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Equality Rights Ggr". Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  7. ^ [1] Retrieved on 23 August 2007.
  8. ^ [2] Archived 17 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ PM Brown To Take Up Gay Age of Consent Inequality in Gibraltar
  10. ^ [3] Archived 17 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "2008 Overseas Territories Review". 
  12. ^ "Gibraltar Women's Association view". 
  13. ^ New Legislation
  14. ^ - Gibraltar court to rule on gay age of consent
  15. ^ Gibraltar Chronicle - Courts set to decide on gay consent age
  16. ^ Britain ‘could force Gibraltar to adopt equal age of consent’
  17. ^ "Gibraltar Chronicle - The Independent Daily First Published 1801". Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  18. ^ "Gibraltar Chronicle - The Independent Daily First Published 1801". Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  19. ^ Gay Group Accuses Chief Minister of Homophobic Crusade "At Tax Payers Expense"
  20. ^ "Gibraltar Chronicle - The Independent Daily First Published 1801". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  21. ^ a b CRIMES ACT 2011
  22. ^ Gibraltar court rules denial of joint adoption by lesbian couple illegal
  23. ^ Gibraltar gives green light to gay adoptions
  24. ^ IVF Treatment To Be Made Available To Female Same-Sex Couples
  25. ^ Las parejas de mujeres pueden optar ya a la fecundación in vitro en Gibraltar
  26. ^ Gibraltar approves civil partnerships bill
  31. ^ a b GSLP/Liberals Manifesto 2015, pages 95-96
  32. ^ Referendum on the question of gay marriage has apparently not been ruled out (GBC)
  33. ^ Opposition would support same-sex marriage legislation, says Feetham (GBC)
  34. ^ Jan 18 - New Year’s Message By The Leader Of The Opposition (YGTV)
  35. ^ Jan 20 - ERG Welcomes Parliamentary Announcement (YGTV)
  36. ^ Over 3,400 responses to ‘Equal Marriage’ Command Paper (Gibraltar Chronicle)
  37. ^ Nearly 3,500 submissions on equal marriage command paper (GBC)
  38. ^ Bill to allow civil marriage between same-sex couples
  39. ^ Gibraltar puts same-sex marriage bill before Parliament
  40. ^ Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016
  41. ^ "Equal marriage bill passed by Parliament". GBC: Gibraltar News. 26 October 2016. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. 
  42. ^ "Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 [No. 22 of 2016]" (PDF). Government of Gibraltar. 1 November 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2016. 
  43. ^ "Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 - Notice of Commencement" (PDF). Government of Gibraltar. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2016. 
  44. ^ "First same-sex marriage takes place on the Rock". GBC: Gibraltar News. 16 December 2016. Archived from the original on 17 December 2016. 
  45. ^ The Rock of prejudice Retrieved on 23 August 2007.
  46. ^ Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2013

External links[edit]