The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar has unanimously passed the Civil Marriage Amendment Bill, making same-sex marriage legal in that region.
Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar made the announcement via Twitter on Tuesday.
Chairman Felix Alvarez of Equality Rights Group Gibraltar (ERG) said, “Today is a happy and long-awaited day for many in Gibraltar. And Equality Rights Group extends a big thanks to all the LGBTI community and also to the very special people who have fought unfailingly alongside us.”
Although Alvarez says there is still much to do the community will achieve it together, “because it’s not the Law that changes people – it’s the People that change the Law! And we have proven that to be a poignant truth today!”
There is one caveat in the law; a Conscious Clause, which states that Deputy Registrars can opt out of performing marriages, but a replacement celebrant must take over in those cases.
“ERG will keep a very close eye on the practical working of this provision,” said Alvarez. “We will monitor the day-to-day functioning of this part of the Bill and, should it be enforced, we will take the necessary actions in due course and based on evidence
He adds: “But on days like today, when Gibraltar, despite its differences, puts them aside and shows it cares, it is impossible not to feel immense pride in our country and our people.
Having sex with a person of the same gender was legalized in 1993, and civil partnerships, which carried with it most of the same rights as married couples was passed in 2014.
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that a section of the Adoption act was unconstitutional and in 2014 amended it to include same-sex couples.
Alvarez continues to say that now is the time for people to work side-by-side and live in peace and respect, but not forget that there are still other groups who need assistance.
“Whether in success or in difficulties, ERG has a firm commitment to this community, an unbreakable promise to always act to the best of our abilities, to licitly and impartially speak up on behalf of what is right, and to openly and constructively criticise what is not,” Alvarez said.
“We praise when and where praise is due; and we criticise in the hope of constructive progress when and where also due.
“And we do so regardless of which Party may be in power, and in the offering of constructive ways forward. Dialogue is always our way.
“Those are the ethics of human and civil rights defence by which we are obstinately guided, and by which we shall continue to abide, whatever the pressures may be. It is the route of political and democratic maturity, not partisanship. It is also the foundation of our determination to build secular Civil Society solidarity throughout our Community.”