Cherie Booth in plea for gay rights

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The Independent Online
Barrister Cherie Booth QC made a heartfelt plea for equal rights for lesbians and homosexuals. The Prime Minister's wife went to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to condemn discrimination which she says contravenes European law. Ms Booth was representing 29-year-old Lisa Grant, of Eastleigh, Hampshire, a railway booking clerk with South-West Trains.

The company says Ms Grant's live-in lover Jill Percey cannot have travel concessions worth about pounds 1,000-a-year because they are only available to husbands, wives and "common law opposite-sex" spouses of workers. Ms Booth told the court that the travel concessions were recognised as part of Ms Grant's pay. She was discriminated against because her predecessor in the same job - a man - was granted the travel concessions for his female partner.

But Patrick Elias QC, for the Government, refuted Ms Booth's argument, pointing out that there was no sex discrimination by South-West Trains, because a homosexual couple would have been treated the same way an interim "opinion" of the court's advocate-general will be delivered on 30 September, with the final verdict delivered next year.

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