June date to be set for Abortion Referendum
Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, will be setting the date for the Referendum on abortion to take place on Thursday, June 24, 2021.
In a statement, Mr Picardo gave notice of a Motion he will move in Parliament to set a new date after the Referendum was called off last year due to the pandemic.
The Referendum was called off just days before it was meant to be held last year as the Covid-19 crisis saw all large gatherings cancelled.
In the year since gatherings have been curtailed to prevent spread.
"It is now exactly one year since the decision was taken to postpone the Referendum in the light of the developing Covid-19 pandemic," the Gibraltar Government said.
"Given the drop in the number of infections in the community, and the corresponding decline in the number of patients in hospital and in intensive care, the Government has taken the view that it is now safe to continue with the Referendum campaign from where it had left off."
"The situation will be closely monitored between now and polling day in accordance with the public health situation. However, the Referendum campaign will remain strictly subject to the public health rules and regulations in force at any given moment, including in particular those on public gatherings."
Mr Picardo said he will be encouraging postal voting in the run up to the referendum.
“It is exactly a year since the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was about to hit us and all parties agreed with the decision to delay the Referendum to commence our abortion law," Mr Picardo said.
"As things slowly improve now we are confident we will be able to see people vote safely by late June, with appropriate precautions in place and encouraging postal voting. For that reason, I will move the motion in the House to fix a date for the Referendum on the 24th June. I have agreed this position with all three of the other party leaders in our Parliament.”
Together Gibraltar welcomed the “long overdue” rescheduling of the abortion referendum, but stressed the abortion law should have been passed without a referendum.
The party believes no more official campaigning or public spending is necessary for this painful and repetitive campaign.
TG said the last minute call to put the matter to referendum was a tactical decision, aimed at hiding the lack of consensus within the GSLP on the matter and to avoid an embarrassing defeat in the male-dominated Parliament.
“What ensued were months and months of aggressive and divisive campaigning, with two heavily entrenched sides engaging in personal quarrels that drove a wedge through families, friendships and colleagues,” TG said.
“Most people would agree that it drove a painful wedge through our entire community.”
The party said the referendum has resulted in Gibraltar parading its “abhorrent, medieval legislation on reproductive rights”.
This, TG said, has allowed the referendum to be influenced by religious lobbists and has made Gibraltar the subject of international derision.
“The Party believes that this referendum campaign is simply a replay of campaigns and debates that have been going on around the world for almost half a century,” Party Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said.
“The arguments for and against have been made ad nauseam by both sides, as well as by people more eloquent and experienced than our own campaigners. These arguments have echoed around the world time and time again.”
“TG would like the referendum to be a simple, discreet affair, and believe it should happen as soon as logistics allow.”
“Also, no government money should be employed in the funding any of any of the sides, nor should an official campaign be launched and promoted.”
“This would amount to the sounding of the gong for a next round of a futile dialectic punch-up, which will not influence the result in the slightest, and will further divide our community.”
Pro-Choice campaign group Gibraltar for Yes said it was delighted to hear that the Gibraltar Government will be moving a motion in Parliament to hold the delayed Abortion referendum.
“This past year has been extremely hard for the whole population and none more so than the number of people who have had to wait for the right to proper reproductive healthcare or have had to navigate the minefield of accessing it outside our borders during a pandemic,” the group said.
“Gibraltar for Yes welcomes the opportunity to restart the campaign where it left off in March 2020, and to engage in respectful, factual debate with all parties involved in the campaign.”
This post was updated at 7.30pm to include a statements from Together Gibraltar and Gibraltar for Yes.