Gibraltar LGBT activist awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The founder of Gibraltar’s Equality Rights Group (formerly Gibraltar Gay Rights) has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Felix Alvarez was granted the award for services to equality and human rights.

He said: “Coming on 15th June 2013, the day of the first-ever celebration of Pride in Gibraltar, I will order that, with the superior powers vested in me by Her Majesty (and on pain of death, no less) absolutely everyone kisses, makes up and hugs! End of human strife! Let’s spread some love! Imagine there’s no Heaven!”

He added that “Despite reservations with regard to the current criteria of the Honours system, but for which I’m hopeful that change may be on its way, I cannot fail but recognise the affection and love which people at many levels and from different walks of life have expressed in their support and nomination. And which, as a person, I can’t help but enjoy after years of difficult times; nor indeed,  the importance for a community – in all sectors – which has for so long had to endure less than first class citizenship.

‘It’s not the struggle for being a ‘great Gibraltarian’ that matters, it’s the much more difficult-to-achieve (and perhaps unattainable) goal of being the littlest human being and Gibraltarian that makes a real difference. Nothing in this award will deter me from, at least, continuing to try for that honour.”

Sir Adrian Johns, the Governor of Gibraltar, said: “Since founding Gibraltar Gay Rights in 2000, which later became the Equality Rights Group, Felix Alvarez has been at the forefront of the campaign to raise awareness and the profile of equality and human rights.

“During this time important advances have been made, for example, in the rights of sexual minorities, immigrants, and in the protection of minors. He has built bridges across the community and has made an exceptional personal contribution to the promotion of equality and human rights in Gibraltar.”

In recent years Gibraltar has seen LGBT issues including the unequal the age of consent for gay men, and a court case involving a lesbian couple who were refused a joint tenancy in government housing.

Lesbian broadcaster and journalist Clare Balding was also awarded an OBE while Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, one of the fiercest critics of equal rights for lesbian and gay people, was given a knighthood.