LGBT rights in Gibraltar
|Status||Legal since 1993,|
age of consent equal since 2012
|Gender identity||Transsexual persons not allowed to change legal gender|
|Military||LGBT people allowed to serve openly|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and "gender reassignment" since 2007|
|Recognition of relationships||Civil partnerships since 2014;|
Same-sex marriage since 2016
|Adoption||Legal since 2014|
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|LGBT rights |
in the United Kingdom
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights have evolved significantly in the past decades 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 to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples since March 2014. In October 2016, Gibraltar voted to legalise same-sex marriage. The Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 was passed unanimously in Parliament. The law received royal assent on 1 November and took effect on 15 December 2016.
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
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. Gay male sexual conduct was decriminalised in 1993.
Political campaigning prior to the 2007 elections was prominent with equality rights organisation Gib Gay Rights (GGR), 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.
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.
On 18 May 2009, the Gibraltar Parliament rejected a private member's bill, proposed by the Minister for Justice, to equalise the age of consent. It was opposed by the GSLP/Liberal opposition for technical reasons due to the way the bill was written. Government MPs were given a free vote on the bill. It was defeated, as government MPs were split on its approval, and the opposition members all voted against it.
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. In March 2010, it sought an opinion from the Court to see if the unequal age of consent was discrimination under the principles of the European Council.
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.
On 8 April 2011, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled that a higher age of consent of 18 for gay sex was unconstitutional, and thus mandated an equal age of consent of 16, while at the same time also decriminalising heterosexual anal sex.
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 law. The law took effect on 23 November 2012.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
In March 2014, the Parliament passed a civil partnership law, 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.
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. The leader of the opposition Social Democrats Party announced his support for same-sex marriage in January 2016, days before the Government ruled out a referendum. 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. The Government published a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in August 2016.
On 26 October 2016, the Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 was passed in the Gibraltar Parliament with unanimous support from all 15 members present during the vote. The bill received royal assent on 1 November and took effect on 15 December 2016. The first legally recognized same-sex marriage in Gibraltar took place the next day.
Adoption and family planning
On 10 April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that section 5 (2) of the Adoption Act 1951 was in violation of the Gibraltar Constitution thus in effect, de jure legalising LGBT adoption in Gibraltar. The Government announced that they planned to amend the law as soon as possible and that the Care Agency would take appropriate measures to allow same-sex couples to adopt. The Government did so the following year as part of its civil partnership law (see below).
The 2006 Constitution does not mention sexual orientation. Proposals, made public in early March 2002, specifically omitted direct reference to "sexual orientation" as a category to be constitutionally protected. Other categories are clearly included.
The Equal Opportunities Act 2006, which came into force on 1 March 2007, prohibits discrimination in areas such as employment and the provision of goods and services on numerous grounds, including sexual orientation and "gender reassignment".
Hate crime legislation
A bill to amend the Crimes Act 2011, that would 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.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 1993)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 2012)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment||(Since 2007)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||(Since 2007)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||(Since 2013)|
|Same-sex marriage(s)||(Since 2016)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples (civil partnership)||(Since 2014)|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples||(Since 2014)|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples||(Since 2014)|
|LGBT people allowed to serve in the military||(Responsibility of the British Armed Forces)|
|Right to change legal gender||(Under consideration)|
|Access to IVF for lesbian couples||(Since 2017)|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples||(Banned for heterosexual couples as well)|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- LGBT rights in Europe
- LGBT rights in the United Kingdom
- Same-sex marriage in Gibraltar
- Rodriguez v Minister of Housing
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