Last edited: February 14, 2005

European Court Slams British Ban on Gay Group Sex

Reuters, July 31, 2000

STRASBOURG, France — The European Court of Human Rights on Monday ruled that a British ban on male group sex was illegal because it violated the right to privacy.

The court ruled against Britain in a suit lodged by a 52-year-old British homosexual who was convicted of gross indecency four years ago after police found videos at his home of group sex between himself and up to four other adult men.

The unnamed plaintiff argued that the conviction was an intrusion into his private life as the sex, between consenting adults, had been performed at his home.

In its written judgment, the Strasbourg court ruled that the activity had been genuinely private as the recordings were not intended to be made public.

It said the British law banning sex between more than two men, even if it is consensual, and the plaintiff’s conviction itself violated article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. The article guarantees the right to respect for private and family life.

It awarded the plaintiff 20,929 ($31,300) in damages and 12,391 ($18,540) in costs.

The court did not rule on the plaintiff’s argument that the law discriminated against men as it did not ban group sex between women.

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