Equality & Civil Rights
Equality and a progressive reform of civil rights is one of Together Gibraltar’s four main policy pillars, a transformation that is long overdue in Gibraltar. Despite the Government’s narrative of economic success, if we compare how we treat our women, minorities and disadvantaged groups against other developed nations, we are lagging decades behind. There is still a significant disparity in access to opportunity between different sectors of society, a lack of state support to vulnerable groups, and a legislation that allows injustice to continue. In fact, some of our legislation is in clear breach of human rights law. For most in our community, it is becoming increasingly evident that the divide between the haves and the have nots continues to grow.
As a prosperous nation, we have the ability to be leaders and ground breakers on equality, learning from tried and tested methods in leading nations and implementing these in our own unique manner. Tolerance is not just about coexisting in peace, but about helping minorities enjoy the same rights as others. Development should not only be measured in GDP figures alone, but also in how we treat those less fortunate.
We aim to create a fairer society where people are treated equally regardless of the colour of their skin, sexual preference, nationality, gender, sexuality or religion.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Together Gibraltar will create an Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure our people are treated with dignity and respect. It will promote excellence in interpretation and provision of equality and human rights laws and aims to be an essential point of contact for policy makers, public bodies, individuals and businesses.
This commission will:
Inform employers and organisations about their legal duties, imposing obligations on employers, public authorities, and service providers explicit and enforceable.
The Commission will be empowered to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights in order to eliminate discrimination and advance equality.
It will make regulators, inspectorates, the Ombudsman and civil society key partners in creating a critical mass of enforcement action and set key targets for improvement.
The committee will have the power to impact on legislative, executive, administrative, budgetary and regulatory instruments, plans programmes and policies in areas such as employment, taxation, housing, education, culture, and participation in public life.
Maternity & Paternity Leave
Employers are currently not obliged to give a single day of paid leave to new fathers. By having no statutory paternity leave, we perpetuate a paternalistic social model in which mothers are set up to bear the brunt of domestic and childcare responsibilities. The lack of paternity leave also inhibits bonding between fathers and their children during these crucial early months of children’s lives. New mothers receive statutory maternity pay of just under £87.64 per week from government, with employers not currently being obliged to pay any part of their wages during the maternity leave period. We will:
Increase statutory maternity leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks, and introduce 18 weeks of statutory paternity leave with immediate effect
Amend “maternity allowance” to “parental allowance”.
Raise parental allowance from £87.64 to £204.75 per week (75% of full-time minimum wage) or a sum equivalent to 75% of an average week of earnings of the person taking the leave, whichever is the lower.
Oblige employers to pay the employee a sum equivalent to parental allowance should the employee wish to take an added 4 weeks of parental leave following the exhaustion of their maternity or paternity leave entitlement.
Conduct a full review of the maternity and paternity leave framework, taking into account practices in other jurisdictions and assessing viability locally.
Revise the Child Welfare Grant so that it provides real assistance to low-income families.
Introduce extra days of parental leave entitlement for the equivalent days of prematurity (under 36 weeks) or days in hospital for post-natal medical procedures.
Ensure that self-employed individuals will have the same right to parental allowance as employed individuals.
Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap not only discriminates against women. At its most basic level, it reflects power and impacts nearly every aspect of community life. We will:
Make employers with 25 or more employees publish their gender pay gap data.
Eliminate the gender pay gap in the public sector following advice from the EIHRC.
Tackle under-representation of women in the workforce by providing individual guidance, vocational training and by encouraging flexible working hours and conditions.
Encourage flexible working time agreements.
Incentivise flexible working options such as job sharing, remote hours, reduced hours and part time
Reproductive Rights and Healthcare
Barriers to reproductive rights are barriers to full social, economic, political and workplace equality. Not legalising abortions will not stop abortions in Gibraltar, it will simply push them to private clinics in Spain, thus leaving citizens unprotected. We will:
Ensure full sexual and reproductive health services are freely and safely available, in line with recommended expert guidelines.
Include full contraceptive services, bodily autonomy including elective sterilisation, pre and post op services and emotional support for those in need.
Amend the Abortion Act in line with our party leader’s proposed amendments and repeal section two which provides for a referendum on the issue.
Childcare can prove to be costly, and it is often a struggle for parents to return to work on a full-time basis leading to in work poverty especially for lone parents. Statistics show that it is mostly mothers who decide to cut back on their working hours after they have children. We will:
Increase the nursery school allowance from £5,400 to £6,000.
Conduct a comprehensive review of state funded provision of childcare to establish how mothers’ re-entry into the workforce can be improved, especially for those who work shifts or unsociable patterns.
Equalised Pensionable Age
Currently, there is a disparity between the pensionable age between men and women. We will phase in an equalisation of the pensionable age for men and women upon consultation and introduce pension credits to bring pensions up to a guaranteed minimum standard.
Currently, divorced individuals have no entitlement to their ex-spouse’s pensions, regardless of the number of years that they were married pre-retirement. This is an issue which affects women disproportionately, given that they tend to be the ones who take a step back in their careers in order to attend to domestic and childcare responsibilities. We will address this injustice by allocating the entitlement on a pro-rata basis, in line with the years spent as a dependent.
Moroccan Community Support Bureau
· We have a debt with the Moroccan community, a collective that has suffered historical marginalisation and continues to endure extremely precarious conditions. Our economic and equality legislation will aim to tackle general inequality and precarity, but we will also implement measures with immediate effect. We will:
· Introduce a bureau of information and assistance with a helpline and online presence for Moroccan nationals who wish to visit family and relatives, with fully trained, bilingual staff at hand to address their queries and facilitate their needs.
· Review the current visa system to ensure visits are facilitated and these families are treated fairly.
A great deal has been done to bring about equality for the LGBT+ community but there is still much to be done. Building on our track record for fighting for the rights of the LGBT+ community, we will:
Provide education as part of the curriculum to cover LGBT+ awareness and discrimination.
Allow same-sex couples to register the birth of their child as birth parents.
Support the demedicalisation of transgenderism and make it easier for those who are seeking medical and surgical gender reassignment to access those services.
Amend the requirements in relation to the documentation that needs to be presented prior to marriage so that trans people can have a marriage ceremony and marriage certificate that reflects their gender identity.
People’s attitudes towards disability can present barriers that make it very difficult for the disabled to access jobs and services. Removing these barriers is the best way to include our disabled community in society. To this end, we will:
Listen to and consult with individuals and families, as well as charities and associations, in relation to any decisions which affect the disabled community.
Ensure that the Department of Employment carries out vocational profiling in order to assist individuals in accessing the job market.
Introduce liveable allowances and capacity at St. Bernadette´s for people who cannot work.
Introduce supported learning environments for disabled individuals, including those with Cerebral Palsy, so that education and life skills are available up until the age of 18, leading to supported employment with mentorship programmes. Subsequently, we will provide a home, care and suitable individualised supported employment to guarantee dignified living in an inclusive and non-segregated environment.
Extend the statutory right to request flexible working to become an immediate right. Time off due to disability will be treated separately from sick leave, recognising that some disabled people may have different and higher forms of sickness absence.
Introduce after-school activities for all children in St. Martin’s and with Special Educational Needs.
Make public transport accessible to those who are mobility challenged and the elderly. We will ensure that there are more disabled toilets available and that some are accessible at night.
Review the working conditions of carers in order to improve staff retention, as staff turnover with agencies is a big problem for continuity of care. The individual needs to build a relationship with their carer who will get to know them and their needs. We will create an independent inspectorate to ensure continuity of standards.
We will introduce the Accessible Information Standard (AIS) with the aim of making health and social care information accessible to all people with a disability or sensory loss. AIS will support our equality legislation to ensure there is adequate communication and support.
Increase access for disabled individuals in all areas where is it structurally possible.
We will update the telecommunications act 2006 to include SMS messages for emergency services for the disabled and elderly.
Protecting victims of domestic violence and working on prevention through awareness and education is crucial. We will:
Develop legislation addressing emotional and mental abuse.
Provide more temporary accommodation, support and paid leave to those leaving abusive domestic environments.
Bullying is a persistent problem and must be tackled head on. We will:
Ensure that the existing zero-tolerance policy within the public sector is adhered to and breaches of the current legislation in all sectors result in immediate disciplinary action.
Provide counselling for both victims and offenders of bullying and offer classes in coping mechanisms and mindfulness.
Run a public information anti-bullying campaign to increase awareness of the seriousness of this issue.
Sexual violence is a worldwide problem, and Gibraltar is no exception. We will:
Introduce educational programs and public information campaigns for adolescents and adults to learn to recognise and prevent unhealthy or violent relationships.
Publish a consultation paper with a view to introducing sexual consent laws that adequately address ambiguity over consent in rape cases.