"Dear Mr Picardo,

 

The Secular Humanist Society of Gibraltar wholeheartedly welcomes the imminent amendments to the Marriage Act to make same sex marriage a reality, finally bringing about equality for all in this area.

 

However the Society is very concerned about, and opposed to the proposed introduction of a “Provision to opt-out” which will allow Deputy Registrars to refuse to participate in same-sex marriages. We find this provision unacceptable in principle as it is nothing more than a statutory right to discriminate. Civil Servants must perform the tasks assigned to them. It is unacceptable to permit them to pick and choose which members of the public they are willing to serve.

 

Would one allow a Civil Servant to refuse to serve a member of the public because of that person’s race, religious beliefs or political affiliation? A Civil Servant must serve the public – all of it. Any Civil Servant who is unwilling to treat all members of the public equally and impartially is in the wrong job. This provision could even potentially conflict with Section 42(1) of the Equal Opportunities Act which prohibits public authorities from doing any act which constitutes discrimination on an equal opportunities ground, which includes that of gender. The proposed Section 6b of the Marriage Act would permit discrimination on the grounds of the gender of the participants which to us is unacceptable.

 

The SHSG also urges the Government to strengthen the Equal Opportunities Act Part V, to include Sexual Orientation as an equal opportunities ground for that part, in particular Section 43 in relation to the Provision of goods, facilities and services. Refusing service to a person simply on the grounds of that person’s sexual orientation should be as unacceptable as other grounds and legislation should reflect that.

 

Those who feel for whatever reason, religious or otherwise that same sex marriage or being gay is somehow wrong are free to continue to believe that, and free to live their own lives in accordance with their beliefs. However they are not entitled to discriminate against others in consequence of those beliefs.

 

Equality cannot be simply a word."

 

Kind regards,

 

Darren Olivero

 

Chairman

 

SHS Gibraltar