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Marriage equality is core issue for trade unions - Unite

Unite the Union repeated its support for marriage equality and said there could be ‘no impartiality’ on this matter.

The union said it had participated in circulating a template letter in support of the Equality Rights Group’s One Civil Marriage for All Campaign without Gender Bias.

Unite secured ‘hundreds of signatures’ in support of the cause, adding that it would have secured hundreds more had it had more time to organise and rally its membership.

Unite also reflected on what it said were values which are universal to the trade union movement in support of the LGBT community and their continuing and constant fight against discrimination and acceptance.

unite marriage equality

ERG campaigner Sean Acris

“We welcome the support that the ERG campaign received from other local unions but regret how the GGCA have been pressured to backtrack on their initial commitments to the ERG,” it said in a statement.

“It is especially discouraging given that the GGCA’s initial direction was fully coherent with their constitution, which every GGCA member has to comply with, and only as a consequence of an approach by ‘several members’ had the union backpedalled on their commitments to the ERG and wider trade unionist values.”

“We would have supported them fully in taking their commitments to fruition.”

The comments relate to the GGCA’s decision to circulate a template letter supporting the ERG campaign after it was approached by the group.

The letter drew a number of complaints from members who said the union should have remained impartial in this sensitive debate.

GGCA responded at the time that it had not coerced anyone to sign the letter, but that the marriage equality was in tandem with core union principles.

That message was echoed by Unite yesterday.

“As far as Unite is concerned, there can be no impartiality on this matter,” Unite said.

“It is a core issue that rings with the trade union ethos and strikes deep into the personal lives of a minority collective which the wider community should tolerate given the absolutely zero impact this would have on their own personal lives.”


ERG Chairman Felix Alvarez yesterday thanked Unite, NASUWT GTA and GGCA, together with supporters, allies and members of the public who have rallied around our Campaign call for One Civil Partnership Law For All.

“The truth is that, out on the streets, the reaction has been easy and overwhelming support on this issue,” he said.

“It signals the arrival, coming-of-age and maturity of a political constituency demanding equality and human rights that ERG has worked so hard to establish.”

“It also demonstrates how important it is to have an effective, organised voice of solidarity for civil society in Gibraltar.”

The ERG said fundamental equality and human rights were non-negotiable throughout society and certainly within the union movement.

But it acknowledged that some GGCA members ‘may be in disconcert’ with that principle of unqualified support.

“ERG is not competent to interfere in that Union’s internal debates, but we are grateful for their past support, and trust in the good judgement of its President, Wendy Cummings, and her Executive in taking the matter further,” Mr Alvarez said. “Not least because the Union’s own LGBT members deserve the full and unreserved official support of their organisation.”

He added: “With the end of the Command Paper consultation stage, we now await Government’s decision, whilst calibrating and gauging our own responses in accordance with developments.”

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