Gay sex laws discriminatory - rules EU

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The Independent Online

European judges today ruled that UK laws on consensual gay sex discriminated against homosexuals.

European judges today ruled that UK laws on consensual gay sex discriminated against homosexuals.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of a homosexual man from Yorkshire who appealed after he was convicted of gross indecency for taking part in a gay orgy at his home.

The ruling comes the week after the Government unveiled a report calling for a change to the laws on sexual offences, including making group sex between homosexuals legal, and allowing sex in public.

European judges decided the conviction of the man, known only by his initials ADT, was a violation of the "right to respect for a private family life".

Ministers could now be forced to change the laws to bring them into line with EU legislation.

Lesbian and gay rights group Stonewall today said the ruling "drives a coach and horses" through Britain's gross indecency laws.

Angela Mason, the group's executive director, said: "It vindicates the view of the Sexual Offences Review that this legislation violates the right to privacy set out in the European Convention of Human Rights.

"It makes the new proposal to introduce an even-handed public sex offence even more pressing.

"I believe the Government will now have to issue a directive to police officers telling them not to continue prosecutions under this offence."

The man at the centre of the ruling was prosecuted after police found a video of a number of men taking part in sex acts at his home.

He appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that gross indecency is a discriminatory law because it only applies to men.

Sex between men is legal in Britain if it is in private between two consenting partners who are 18 or over. If more people are involved or if the sex is in public, it is illegal.