TOGETHER GIBRALTAR COMMENTS ON ABORTION DEBATE AND LEGISLATION IN PARLIAMENT
A little over a year ago, Together Gibraltar, then still a civil society platform, launched a campaign to give politicians a mandate to finally recognise reproductive freedoms in Gibraltar. We did this in response to politicians on both sides of this House, who were hiding behind a lack of mandate in order to avoid addressing what was a growing social clamour for a fundamental human right. We touted the concept of a referendum then, ONLY because of the fact that no party and no politician was even entertaining the conversation.
The idea of a referendum at the time seemed the ONLY way to provide the democratic mandate that was said to be missing, despite us being clear at the time, as we are today, that matters of human rights should never be up for referendum. Due to this reality, we titled our campaign. #LETSGIVETHEMAMANDATE. Furthermore, as a civil society platform, Together Gibraltar operated on the principles of horizontality and direct democracy, where all members could have a say on the actions of the group. As a party, we now have the obligation to position ourselves clearly on issues that have an impact on our community, no matter how sensitive or controversial.
Things have changed dramatically since then and this mandate has been delivered twice over. A case in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on the legality of the law on abortion in Northern Ireland has provided something even more powerful than a democratic mandate. It has provided a legal imperative based on a breach of human rights - and no margin of appreciation will ever allow us ignore that. Something else has changed, Together Gibraltar is no longer a civil society organisation based on the principles of horizontality and direct democracy, but a political party with an obligation to take a stand on important issues affecting the community.
Nevertheless, Together Gibraltar, the Civil Society platform’s ideological position on the matter was made very clear in response to the Government’s command paper on abortion reform, in the autumn of last year.
Further, and given that we are at the cusp of an election, instead of incurring the costs and divisiveness that referendums bring, and given the Bill has been put to a convenient ‘freeze’, why couldn’t the Government have simply thrown the mandate to all political parties, to set out clearly their objectives for abortion legislation in their manifestos and allow the public to endorse these commitments in that way?
We would also like to highlight that it is a well-known reality that openly "anti-choice" members of the cabinet have voted in favour of the Bill, which proves that this referendum ‘commencement clause’ is nothing but a ploy from Government to avoid showing its true position on this issue. To impose on our community this potentially divisive exercise which would most likely prove futile (as a negative result would be most certainly overridden by the Supreme court), is more than just bad governance - it is simply irresponsible.
This is not a time for more debates and distractions. This is a time to act and respond to the needs of the women of our community.
Together Gibraltar therefore urges the community to help the party to put pressure on our political representatives, because #WEHAVEAMANDATE.
An elected Together Gibraltar Government would take a firm stand on human and female reproductive rights issues. If in office come end of 2019, we will repeal the referendum clause and legislate accordingly.