European Court of Human Rights
Originally individuals had to take a case to the European Commission of Human Rights, which would then if it saw fit take the case to the ECtHR. However since 1998 the Commission has been abolished and individuals can take their cases direct to the ECtHR.
Decisions of the ECtHR have led to:
- decriminalisation of gay sex in Northern Ireland in 1982 (Dudgeon v the United Kingdom)
- allowing Caroline Cossey to be recognised as a woman in 1989 (reversed on appeal the following year)
- gay men and lesbians allowed to serve in the armed forces since 2000 (Lustig-Prean and Beckett v the United Kingdom)
- awards of compensation to ADT and to the Bolton Seven in 2000
- the passing of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
Note: the Court has no connection with the European Court of Justice, which is the highest court of the European Union. However all 27 members of the European Union are members of the Council of Europe.