Dudgeon v the United Kingdom

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Dudgeon v the United Kingdom was a case heard by the European Court of Human Rights in 1981. It ruled that the law in Northern Ireland that penalised sex between men in private was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Its significance extended far beyond Northern Ireland, in that it was the first time that the ECtHR had upheld a complaint about homosexual activity.

The case was raised by Jeff Dudgeon, following his interrogation by the police about his private life. The court ruled that this violated Article 8 of the Convention (Right to respect for private and faimly life).

There was no devolved assembly at that time in Northern Ireland, so it fell to the UK Government to implement the Court's rulings. It did so via the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982 which decriminalised male gay sex wth an age of consent of 21, in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.