Romer v Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)

Romer v Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)

The US Supreme Court struck down a state constitutional amendment that had the effect of removing gay men and lesbian women from the protection of antidiscrimination laws. Although the state argued that the amendment was a ‘reasonable effort to preserve traditional American moral values’, the Court concluded that ‘If the constitutional conception of “equal protection of the laws” means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare [...] desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate government interest.’

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P v S and Cornwall County Council [1996] ECR I – 2143 , Case C-13_94

P v S and Cornwall County Council [1996] ECR I – 2143 , Case C-13_94

The European Court of Justice case concerned the interpretation of a Community Directive prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. The Court held that the Directive prohibited dismissal from employment on the basis of a person’s gender identity, stating that ‘to tolerate such discrimination would be tantamount, as regards such a person, to a failure to respect the dignity and freedom to which he or she is entitled, and which the Court has a duty to safeguard’.

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Toonen v Australia, CCPR/C/50/D/488 (1992)

Toonen v Australia, CCPR/C/50/D/488 (1992)

The UN Human Rights Committee evaluated a Tasmanian law criminalising sexual relations between consenting males. It concluded that the law violated Article 17(1) (right to privacy) in conjunction with Article 2(1) (non-discrimination) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Crucially, the Committee noted that the reference to “sex” in Article 26 (equality before the law) and in Article 2(1) included sexual orientation.

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Modinos v Cyprus, 16 Eur. H.R. Rep 485 (1993)

Modinos v Cyprus, 16 Eur. H.R. Rep 485 (1993)

The case was brought by a gay rights activist who stated that he suffered strain and apprehension owing to the criminalisation of homosexual acts under section 171 of the Criminal Code of Cyprus. He argued that such provisions interfered with his Article 8 rights (right to private life). The Court found for the applicant

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Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland, (14234/88) [1992] ECHR 68 (1992)

Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland, (14234/88) [1992] ECHR 68 (1992)

The applicants were two non-profit organisations which provided information about pregnancy-related options. The Irish Supreme Court imposed restrictions on the two companies prohibiting them from providing any information to pregnant women about abortion clinics in Great Britain. The European Court of Human Rights held that the injunction violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention. The case has broader implications as although Article 10 may be legitimately restricted in some circumstances, including for the protection of public morals, the Court held that state discretion in such matters is not ‘unfettered and unreviewable’, and that freedom of expression applies even to ideas ‘that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.’

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Commonwealth of Kentucky v Watson, Supreme Court of Kentucky (1992), 842 S.W.2d 487

Commonwealth of Kentucky v Watson, Supreme Court of Kentucky (1992), 842 S.W.2d 487

In this case the Supreme Court of Kentucky struck down the state sodomy law. The Court held that the statute violated the protection of privacy and equal protection under the Kentucky Constitution.

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