European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention was drafted by a committee chaired by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and came into force in 1953. It establishes the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated under the Convention by one of the states that have signed the Convention can take a case to the Court.
The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the Convention into UK law, so that British citizens can ask for the Convention rules to be enforced in British courts, without having to go to the ECtHR.
The ECHR and LGBT rights
The Convention has been a very important factor in securing the human rights of LGBT people. In particular:
- 1982: gay sex was decriminalised in Northern Ireland as a result of a European Court decision in the case of Dudgeon v the United Kingdom.
- 1996: the British Government was forced to pay compensation to "ADT" after he had been convicted for having a private gay sex party in his home.
- 2000: six of the Bolton Seven similarly received compensation for their convictions.
- 2000: the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 equalised the age of consent for gay and straight sex.
- 2003: the case of Bellinger v Bellinger paved the way for the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
- 2004: in the case of Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza, it was ruled that the surviving partner of a same-sex couple could be treated as a "spouse" for the purpose of succeeding to a tenancy.
- 2007: gay sex was decriminalised in Jersey by the Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 2007 to comply with the Convention.
- 2013: gay couples in Northern Ireland allowed to adopt children.