UK gay rights record 'worst in Europe'

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN has the worst record of human rights abuses against lesbians, gays and bisexuals in Europe, according to a report by the civil rights group Liberty, writes Mary Braid.

Andrew Puddephatt, Liberty's general secretary, yesterday accused politicians of 'widespread homophobia' and claimed homosexuals suffered severe discrimination in every area of their lives in contravention of United Nations and European human rights conventions. Liberty plans to lobby the UN Human Rights Committee about the Government's 'disgraceful' human rights record.

The report, Sexuality and the State, was supported by Outrage and other gay groups which demand equal treatment in law, including the equalisation of the age of consent, the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act banning the 'promotion' of homosexuality by local authorities, and sanction for gay marriages.

The report was launched on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, the gay uprising in New York that marked the start of the modern homosexual rights movement. Peter Tatchell, spokesman for Outrage, said that while Stonewall had catalysed political change worldwide, Britain's few improvements were due to to 'queer self-help'.

While Germany had equalised the age of consent and former Communist countries had scrapped anti-gay laws, 'backward Britain was the last bastion of homophobia'.

Liberty said the criminal justice system interfered with rights to privacy; gay men could still be convicted for kissing in public.