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A gay student won the first battle yesterday in his fight to force the Government to lower the homosexual age of consent. The European Commission of Human Rights agreed to consider Euan Sutherland's claim that the 18-year age limit is discriminatory and breached his right to respect for his private life.

Mr Sutherland, 19, from Dulwich, south London, who launched the legal challenge two years ago, said: "I feel very happy. It's been very much worthwhile." The Commission will investigate his claim and try to reach a settlement between him and the Government.

If it fails the case is likely to be heard by the Court of Human Rights, which could give a binding judgment in 18 months to two years. Heather Mills