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Contact, welfare and the right to (gay) family life

Norrie, Kenneth (2003) Contact, welfare and the right to (gay) family life. Scots Law Times, 3. pp. 23-27.

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Abstract

It sometimes happens that in a single year a series of law reform events, legislative and judicial, transforms the landscape of a particular area of law. In relation to the legal position of lesbians and gay men, 1999 was such a year. The House of Lords in Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association [1999] 4 All ER 705 held that a same-sex couple could be considered a “family” for certain statutory purposes; the European Court of Human Rights accepted for the first time that discrimination on that basis was contrary to art 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Salgueiro da Silva Mouta v Portugal (1999) 31 EHRR 47 (p 1055)), and also that the UK's policy of dismissing gay men and lesbians from the armed forces was contrary to art 8 (Lustig-Prean and Beckett v United Kingdom (1999) 29 EHRR 548); and constitutional courts across the (western) world handed down judgments striking down a variety of legislative provisions that treated same-sex couples less favourably than opposite-sex couples.