Today marks the anniversary of Gibraltar’s Civil Partnership Act. The landmark law gives same-sex couples the right to have their relationship legally recognised and to enjoy most of the same rights as their straight counterparts. We explain what civil partnership is and why we still need gay marriage on the Rock.
What is a civil partnership?
In Gibraltar, a civil partnership is the legal union of two persons of either the same sex or different sex. Couples must be over the age of 16 and not presently in an existing marriage or civil partnership. For lesbian and gay couples, it is currently the only way of having their relationships legally recognised. Civil partners enjoy broadly the same rights in Gibraltar as their straight married counterparts, including in matters of tax, pensions and immigration.
What’s the difference between civil partnership and same-sex marriage?
Unlike the UK, gay marriage is still prohibited in Gibraltar. Although civil partnership is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, achieving full equality remains important. One key reason why marriage is needed is that it is a globally recognised status. If civil partners were to travel, or settle in, a country where only marriage and not civil partnership is recognised, they could lose the important rights which they were granted under Gibraltar legislation.
Will Gibraltar follow the UK in legalising gay marriage?
Yes, if the Gibraltar Equality Rights Group has anything to do it. Following a consultation exercise in which 90% of those questioned called for a change in the law, the human and civil rights group launched a campaign for full Equal Marriage last November. When it comes to equality legislation, however, Gibraltar has been pretty late to the party. Decriminalisation came in 1993 (compared to 1967 in the UK) with equality for age of consent only being granted as recently as 2011 (compared to 2001 in the UK). In fact, we are still waiting for the LGBT community in Gibraltar to be given protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to equality in Gibraltar and this is all the more reason to celebrate achievements like the Civil Partnership Act.
What’s happening to celebrate the civil partnership anniversary?
A big party! Leading event company Atrevida is teaming up with Dusk nightclub and Chica DJs on Saturday 28th March to put on a night of music, shows and dancing until the early hours.
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