The imbalance on equality has been redressed, says minister Sacramento

During our two terms in office, it has been my privilege to have held many portfolios, says minister SAMANTHA SACRAMENTO in her Budget speech. And she goes on: 


Of all those portfolios, there has been one that I have held from the very first day, and that is Equality. I am Gibraltar’s first Minister for Equality, a responsibility that I am very proud of.

As Minister for Equality, I lead the Ministry for Equality, a department that we created and which for the first time, and is dedicated to upholding equality principles and eliminating all forms of discrimination.

It has been immensely rewarding to have been at the helm of a responsibility that has been ground breaking, in philosophy, ideas, in policies and most importantly in legislation.


In December 2011, there was a fundamental change in that the electorate got a Government that stands for fairness and equality for everyone in our community.

Our progress has been such that many may well have forgotten that we took over from an administration that did not share these fundamental values.

Equally, many will have not forgotten what it was like back then. As unimaginable as it may now seem, those were times when a same sex couple had to challenge the then establishment, to be determined by the highest Court in the land, at great public expense, in order to assert their rights to a joint tenancy of a government rental flat. Needless to say that the Privy Council determined that the state had discriminated against the couple.

An administration with many shortcomings, and none clearer and more obvious than in equality, and particularly in gay rights.

Thankfully, those dark days are gone since the new dawn of December 2011. The imbalance on equality has been redressed and such shortcomings addressed because what for them was not even a dot on the radar of importance, in contrast, for us, has been a priority.

June is considered to be the month to mark gay pride, it is therefore fitting I think, that I should commence my address marking our progress on this important subject.

It is incredible to now think that the first time that the word gay was mentioned in parliament was in my very first budget speech in 2012 and gay rights were first properly achieved in this House in 2014.

Indeed, the first Bill that I ever moved in this Parliament was the Civil Partnership Bill in March 2014, a landmark piece of legislation because for the first time in our history, it enabled the formal recognition of relationships between couples of the same sex. It was also progressive because it extended to opposite sex couples as well, something that we did ahead of the UK where it has only just recently been changed as a result of a challenge.

Up until that point, the gay men and women who lived in Gibraltar did not have their relationships, love and commitment recognised in the eyes of the law.

That Act represented a historic step on what had been a long journey for respect, dignity and above all recognition of gay couples.

In our second term in office, in October 2016, I brought the Civil Marriage Amendment Act to this House to allow for the civil marriage of gay couples. At the time, the response to the consultation paper was the most overwhelming we had ever had, mostly in favour of the proposed Bill. The passing of that Act once again demonstrated our commitment to reflect respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality, and also strengthening the institution of marriage, ensuring that it remains an essential building block of modern society.

In addition, we have also legislated to outlaw homophobic hate crime and hate speech in 2013, such crimes are now aggravated offences.

Equality is at the heart of this Government as it affects everyone.


In July 2015, in recognition of our transgender community, we made provision to extend protection from discrimination for individuals who have undergone gender reassignment.

The Department of Equality is currently preparing an awareness and information programme to raise awareness of the rights of individuals who have transitioned and also work with partner departments who provide services to ensure that the members of the transgender community are supported.

Gender equality

Our Government’s commitment to equality is embedded in everything that we do.

Gender equality is another important strand of my equality portfolio.

At the start of my tenure as Minister for Equality, I was keen to develop and introduce policies that would promote gender equality. Before that time, this was not something that was really discussed.

I believe most resolutely that gender equality is a vital component of a mature and modern society and it is an intrinsic factor in our quest for social justice.