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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK


Gays win equal travel rights

South West Trains changed its position

Gay railway workers have won the same travel perks for their partners as heterosexual couples.

The move follows a victory by a lesbian couple against South West Trains last week.

Telephone inquiry clerk Lisa Grant, 32, and her partner Jill Percey, 40, won the same perks as heterosexual couples when the company reversed its position.

Now the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), says all companies must fall into line.

The train companies' move came despite a ruling by the European Court of Justice last year that Ms Grant and Ms Percey, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, were not entitled to the same travel concessions.

An ATOC spokesman said: "It's a case of railways moving with the times. We think we are providing the conditions our staff and customers would expect in the modern age."

Stonewall 'delighted'

Gay rights activists won another victory last month when the Ministry of Defence suspended further action against homosexuals in the military, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban was unlawful.

Ms Grant said "I'm pleased that all staff will now be treated and paid the same. Train passes are part of staff's payment.

"It was something of an insult to be told that I would be paid less because our relationship was not considered meaningful."

Angela Mason, executive director of Stonewall, said: "This is a major step towards achieving equal rights in the work place, and we are delighted that the train operators have recognised the importance of equality for all their staff."

The move brings the train companies into line with many other forms of transport, both public and private.

London Transport already grants same-sex or unmarried partners of employees all-zone travel passes. Partners need to reside at the same address as the employee. Full pension benefits also apply.

On Virgin Atlantic employees can nominate a travel partner or the same or opposite sex to receive free and discounted flights. The company's health care scheme also applies to same sex or unmarried partners.

Unmarried British Airways staff can nominate a relative or partner of either sex to enjoy cheap travel..

The Body Shop recognises unmarried and same-sex partners in its pension scheme, medical insurance cover and staff discount cards.

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