Brazilian lover will test rights for gay migrants

A gay British man began a High Court fight yesterday to bring his Brazilian boyfriend to London in a case that could create new immigration rights for both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Nigel McCollum began legal action after the immigration authorities refused entry to his partner, Renato Lozano, who he first lived with in London in 1995. Home Office officials ruled that after leaving the country they could not show they had lived together for four continuous years as a "family".

Mr McCollum, who was born in Belfast but lives in London, is challenging the refusal on the basis that his partner should be allowed into the United Kingdom under European law. Stephanie Harrison, appearing for the couple, said: "On the unchallenged facts of this case Mr McCollum's partner is a family member."

The couple had lived together for two and a half years until Mr McCollum, 33, moved to Israel to work for the United Nations. Mr Lozano was refused permission to enter Britain in November 1998 after the two spent time together in Switzerland. To deny Mr Lozano admission and order his expulsion negated Mr McCollum's own rights of residence in the UK, Miss Harrison told Mr Justice Turner, sitting in London.

She challenged the way the immigration authorities operated a Home Office discretionary policy, which places a minimum time limit on how long couples have to live together - currently four years - "in a relationship akin to marriage" before they are treated as a family unit.

"There are no relevant considerations of public policy which require refusal of entry or expulsion of a partner," Miss Harrison argued. Mr McCollum claims the removal of his long-term partner, who can be considered a family member, hinders his right to free movement. The hearing continues.