‘Gibraltar needs to be consistent: it cannot demand self-determination for itself internationally, while refusing that same self-determination domestically to its women citizens,’ was one of the messages Felix Alvarez, representing the ERG-Unite Pro-Choice campaign, delivered in London last Saturday at a forum of key speakers discussing the way forward on reproductive rights. 

Praising the collective work of Civil Society in Gibraltar by name (Together Gibraltar, Choice, and No More Shame) Alvarez held that ‘the future is Civil Society, not political parties or politicians. That’s increasingly the past. Look at the failed UK Parliament on Brexit, the disastrous USA situation leading to government shutdowns (not only under Trump, but under previous Presidents too); and let’s not mention the EU and the consequences of its failures.

'Civil Society is increasingly demanding a much more direct role in defining democracy, and this is likely an unstoppable historic trend away from the concentration of power in the hands of a few. The challenge for Democracy today is avoiding this increasing reality from becoming a platform for those wishing to subvert our democratic heritage and legacy,’ he added.

Mr. Alvarez congratulated Isle of Man speakers for their breakthrough campaigning success in modernising abortion law in their jurisdiction, and took the opportunity to establish further links with other key organisations in the UK on behalf of the Gibraltar Pro-Choice Campaign.

Additionally, he spoke to and proposed a sustained campaign calling for the ‘modernisation of the European Convention on Human Rights' which, he highlighted, has served us well, but is now 70 years old and was engineered to serve the circumstances of a post-Holocaust Europe.

'There are areas of the Convention that now need tweaking, and the debate needs to be had as to whether new principles need formally including. Successful pro-choice work requires us to address the overarching frameworks, not just individual jurisdictional concerns,' he said.

“Increasingly, the failures of the political class are being replaced by NGOs working across sectors and building solidarity. That’s also the way forward for Gibraltar. And if present or future Administrations continue to fail, this will require us to challenge them at the very roots.'

Alvarez also sounded a warning, adding that “This being the case, Civil Society must be watchful that independent voices in our midst are not silenced.

“Democracy is ultimately not about power. It’s about distribution. And that means that it’s not only the rich and powerful who have the right to exercise choice,” the statement ended.