Homophobia in Gib

One of the reasons people say they dislike Gibraltar is that it is so small, everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Chatting to one of our many neighbours, a Gibraltarian told Partner how he’d been friends in his youth with some people who were gay.

His father and his grandfather found out (remember, Gibraltar is a small place) and it was made quite clear to him that he had to choose between his friends and his family. Actually, I don’t think he was given a choice. He had one course of action. Especially if he wanted any family inheritance.

Years later and he reflected that his long-since abandoned gay friends had ‘done well’ in life, ie ‘well’ financially and professionally, and better than him. But, how did those gay friends feel 30 or 40 years ago when people who they thought were friends broke off those friendships and shunned them? How did it feel to be socially ostracised and sent to Coventry?

We’re in the second decade of the 21st century. Homosexuality was only decriminalised here in 1993. We do not have same sex marriage. In 2013 the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled in favour of same sex couples adopting, and last year (2014) couples could have a legal civil union. But still no marriage.

Yet, the UK has same sex marriage, immediate Catholic neighbour Spain legalised it in 2005, and our other Iberian neighbour Portugal legalised it in 2010. So why is Gibraltar dragging its feet?

But in an interview (originally published in the Gib Chron, and now available on the website for Equality Rights Group GGR), it seems Gibraltar still suffers from homophobia:

Gibraltar has been and still is a homophobic place. As a gay person this is my perception. While some may be tired of the rights debate, let me tell you, I am even more tired. For me this isn’t something of a whim, it’s about love and fairness. I want what you have, is that such a bad thing? As a straight person, would you accept and settle for a Civil Partnership because that’s all you’re allowed and not aspire to what the rest enjoys?

I am 38 years old and homophobia has played a big part in my life and even so I count myself lucky compared to others. When I was an adolescent I thought I would go to prison for being gay when I grew up. Homosexuality was only decriminalised here in 1993 when I was 16. Not only did I have to deal with feeling alone and isolated, the messages in society told me there was something wrong with me, that I was an aberration, an abomination. I felt I would never be able to be who I was.

At 18 I went to university and discovered there were people like me and they were just as ordinary as I was. I felt normal. I had escaped and even though I looked forward to seeing my family on the holidays returning to Gibraltar was always accompanied by a sense of oppression. Similarly many friends who also came out while being in the UK decided to stay there.

You don’t need to be beaten up to a pulp, lynched, spat on or be shouted abuse, live in a Christian fundamentalist country like Uganda where gays face life imprisonment, or under the Islamic State’s controlled lands where gay men are killed in horrific ways for it to be homophobia. It comes in many different guises.

I am very aware that some will take exception at saying that there is homophobia in Gibraltar. It is easy for them to say, they have not had to walk in my shoes.

It’s a good interview, well worth the read, he makes some salient points (eg TV panels discussing SSM), and explains very rationally and calmly, the discrimination that gay people have suffered and continue to suffer.

[If you read it, please note Jersey and Guernsey and Crown Dependencies, not British Overseas Territories.]

I don’t see homophobia here, but I wouldn’t, I’m not gay. We’ve worked for gays here in Gib and they are, amazingly, just people like everyone else. And, if people want to marry, everyone should have that right. Everyone.

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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28 Responses to Homophobia in Gib

  1. Pious and/or homophobic heterosexuals simply do not know what the facts are, i.e. what the increasing scientific data shows, specifically neuroscience, embryology, genotypes & phenotypes, much less the stigma or little known COMMONALITY of sexual ambiguity, or intersexed birth-rates! Just in North America 1 in 1,666 births have no clear XX or XY chromosome! People whose bodies differ from standard male or female features: 1 in 100 births! And I could list-off another dozen stats showing just how DIVERSE physical sexuality really is… but it is no stretch of reason to infer just how incredibly diverse sexual orientation must be from those medical facts!

    Here’s just one great article on the subject if interested…

    The Third Sex: The Truth About Gender Ambiguity

    As Dr. Milton Diamond states, “Let’s see if we can change society, not nature.

    The real problem is ignorance, fear, narrowmindedness, bigotry, hyper-piousness, etc, etc, and Nature clearly shows us our childish folly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Professor. See you are firing on all guns 😉 as usual.

      I remember your post about intersexuality, thought it was fascinating. Not something I’m up on. When I grew up, the terms were androgynous and hermaphrodite. Sssh, don’t comment on my dinosauric age thank you.

      Changing society is a great phrase, add to that, another variant on the same themes, changing attitudes. And ingrained beliefs …

      As with many strange societal tendencies, I find homophobia incomprehensible. One of radical feminism’s tenets, or rather the thinking of some radfems, is to get rid of the gender binary. Terrible jargon, but in English it means treating people as people first. Or that’s how I choose to interpret it.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Forgot to thank you for the link. I scan read it, in my desire to acknowledge your contribution, but will go back for a deeper read later. Did you pick The Independent so I could understand the spelling? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Did you pick The Independent so I could understand the spelling?” 🙂

          Am I kind, or am I kind and thoughtful!? 😉 As I’ve shared before with you, I really do try to speak an audience’s language; e.g. Fundamentalists and their biblical/spiritual jargon in context with their specific theology. I speak it fluently as you already know Darling. Now British jargon… oops, sorry!… PROPER English, I will probably never master… for good reason!

          P.S. Your welcome for the educational link. I have some 15-20 more if you’d like. 😀


          • Actually you are arrogant and egotistical, darling. xx

            Fundy speak is beyond my patience. There are more useful languages to learn. I’d rather know how to order a beer.

            Never mind your proper English, you won’t ‘master’ feminist language too easily either. Although such terms as ‘master’ may suit you elsewhere.

            Thank you. I appreciate your efforts to educate me for now. However I do think my quals currently trump yours, and – I’m fucking busy! Just post them on your blog and I’ll get round to them. You spend too much time reading the Internet 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • LOL!
            Quit holding back. Tell me what you REALLY think. 😛

            Liked by 1 person

          • You KNOW what I really think 😛 Don’t you? Professor Intuitive?

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonel says:

    I think it’s unfair that society or anyone can have a say about anyone’s life, unless you need them so much that you have to adhere to their ‘rules’. It’s their life and has nothing to do with anyone else. I totally agree with you – anyone should have the right to marry who they want to. No questions asked and no judgments given. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    • As a society we judge far too much, well, I know I do. But not in this sphere. And I am disappointed that Gibraltar is lagging behind in SSM, and that gays still feel there is an atmosphere of homophobia. OK, so I’m judging people who oppose SSM and homosexuality! But the bottom line is, it’s denying other humans equality. There’s no need for that.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Sonel says:

        Same here. None of us are blameless. I especially judge people who abuse animals, children and the elderly.

        It is disappointing and yeah, let’s judge those who oppose it. If they can judge, then we can as well!

        You’re right. There is no need for that. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Animals tick, elderly tick. Children have plenty of people to look out for them so my efforts go for the other two. Not because I’m getting old either. I’ve always thought older people fall into an unwanted category cos they aren’t cute like kids and animals. Just wrinkly, infirm, and thought to be past their sell-by date. I’d add homeless to my list as well.

          Liked by 4 people

          • Sonel says:

            You’d be surprised how little children really do have people looking out for them. I’ve seen too much abuse in my lifetime where kids were concerned, but animals and the elderly are on the top of my list for sure. Never thought about the homeless. We tend to forget and it’s a shame. That would also be on my list. Thanks for reminding me. 😀


          • I’ve never looked at children, and I’m not a parent. So children’s charities or organisations never touch me the same way the other groups do. I did read a horrific post today about bible + Israel + Arabs = Gaza disaster. I won’t add the link unless you want but there was a gloating pic of someone holding up a charred child. WTF!

            I’m saving my latest animal abuse comments for tomorrow on Roughseas which is a cat and dog post. Some nice bits though 🙂

            I think being homeless would be horrible, and this is where judging comes in. They chose it. They made the wrong decision. And who, in life is never wrong? Not me for certain. And when we see people walking into town, after a night sleeping under a bridge, to beg outside the supermarket, they have not chosen or deserved that life.


            Liked by 1 person

  3. davidprosser says:

    If the right of happiness was enshrined in the Human Rights Act I wonder if Gib and other Countries could be forced to grant SSM. I wonder how a public referendum would vote after seeing the result in Ireland.
    At the end of the day, all people should be treated equally as all should be offered the same opportunities..
    Huge Hugs Kate xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what the position here is. It seems homosexuals should be grateful for civil partnerships. And they can legally adopt. So why can’t they marry? Well? There is no logical secular legal reason why they should not. It annoys me that they can’t. All societies are unfair, one way or another, but it wouldn’t take much to put this on the statute book.

      And huge hugs to you too David x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. makagutu says:

    someday people will be asking why did they fight over such issues for so long? Were they so daft. I hope I will not be there to be embarrassed that I belonged to such a bigoted generation

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. You might be at the rate idiotic views are – not – changing. Luckily I won’t be 😀

      But it’s a good point. Yes, why is it even an issue? I’ve got Simple (aptly named) Theologian saying on my abortion post that if people don’t want to risk pregnancy they shouldn’t have sex. This is head against the wall material. It all is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        I find arguing with the church group to be a real waste of time. On abortion, a topic, I prefer to avoid most of the time, their god has no feet to stand on. They cannot claim their god as defense.
        You may outlive me my dear friend 😀 or we may die at the same age, you 150 and I at 120


  5. I see Ireland has today permitted Gender Recognition.

    Do you know how Gib would react to a marriage celebrated in England? Would they recognise it?


  6. pinkagendist says:

    I know you stay well out of it, but native Gib’s have serious issues. I was friends with quite a few of them and I’ve rarely known people more obsessed with traditional patriarchal hierarchy. Almost as much as the upper class Indians- but in a sense worse because they speak of it openly while the Indians are discreet.
    The first time I ever heard a real-life person say “that family has only had money for one generation”, the words came from the mouth of a Gibraltarian. The time there was a scandal in Sotogrande because someone was going out with a black man, well, her Gibraltarian family fabricated the scandal.
    People may speak English there, but like many a pueblo, there’s something very Bernarda Alba going on behind the scenes.


    • We certainly don’t do the social network thing, unless a few Christmas cards and visiting our Gibbo neighbours across the road occasionally. Who, incidentally, are old money. The family came over years ago, probably Genoa as there is a lot of Genovese ancestry here. I think their house was originally her great-grandfathers (?) Nice piece of real estate, still pretty original inside, they are increasingly hard to find (and afford). In fact without old money, many Gibraltarians would be nowhere. I’ve heard reverse putdowns such as, ‘oh it was the father/grandfather who made the money in that family’ implying the current generation are useless. The other joke is that so many of these moneyed families have made their money out of smuggling.

      What’s also funny about Gibbos is how they speak about each other behind their backs. They don’t seem to like anyone and are quite happy to moan away to us about people we know in common.

      I’ve not read Bernarda Alba, sounds somewhat like La Tía Tula, which I have read. Invariably on the bus so I didn’t get annoying strangers speaking to me in English.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This whole fuss seems so odd to me. Maybe in the 60-early 70’s, but now? I’ve worked with a lot of gay people. My oldest cousin (70yrs) has been with his partner for almost 40 years. But it’s a big city not small town or place with little diversity of people
    Is the big problem is that “marriage” is considered a church thing – a “holy sacrament”? Not sure what the work around to that is unless all couples have to get a license then have a civil legal joining/union and make any church ceremony totally optional for couples and with no legal standing at all gained from it. Get the church out of the business and out of control.
    Prefer not to tell people how they ought to think. Just makes them more ornery and irrational.
    It is bang your head on the wall type of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Both my partner and myself have had lesbians in the family. Wonder if that used to be more acceptable well, not quite as terrible as Gay! Men!
      Not that my family sanctioned it but it was acknowledged. Which was a step. Back then.
      I mean, seriously, who cares? It’s like wanting to read about the sex lives of film stars. Just, get on with your own life and let others do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. EllaDee says:

    ​Unfortunately Gib’s not alone in dragging its feet. Some of Australia’s population as well. For me it’s yet another a ‘let’s move on people, do no harm only good’… I believe in live your own life, live it well. I don’t have any right to mind anyone else’s business. But the effort that other people go to attempting to do is quite incredible. Even for the G.O. and I… heterosexual but married twice before, bumpbah… want to get married [yet] again, bumpbah… don’t want a church wedding, bumpbah… don’t want to assume husband’s surname, bumpbah… not having kids, bumpbah… Except regardless it’s legal. All these arbitrary judgments on any person who falls outside the self-imposed scope of acceptability. Time will tell, soon I hope, and history will bear out the ridiculousness of the naysayers.


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