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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Unions lose sex equality ruling
Gay men holding rainbow flag
Unions say new equality rules may fail to protect gay and lesbians workers
Unions have failed in a legal bid to quash new equality regulations which, they say, fail to protect gay and lesbian workers from discrimination.

A UK High Court judge refused to rule that provisions in the government's 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations were flawed.

Unions said the rules failed to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination by "faith based" employers.

Religious organisations are exempt from certain provisions in the regulations.

'Distorted view'

In his ruling, Mr Justice Richards refused to rule that the equality regulations were "incompatible" with European law.

He said: "To treat the regulations as reducing the level of protection (from sex discrimination) seems to me to require a distorted view of their effect."

However, in recognition of the importance of the case, he gave the unions, which include Amicus, Unison and the RMT, leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Separately, the unions - in an action co-ordinated by the TUC - unsuccessfully challenged provisions which they said enabled employers to exclude same-sex couples from pension and benefits rights currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

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