The European Court of Human Rights rules that Irish laws penalising male homosexual behaviour have breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

A 14 year legal battle by Senator David Norris came to an end today, when he won his case to decriminalise homosexual activity between consenting adults in the European Court of Human Rights.  

The decision, which is binding on the Irish government, was read by European Court President Rolv Einar Rasmussen Ryssdal.  The Irish government had claimed that the law in question had never been used against the plaintiff and that there had been no prosecutions under this law in recent years.  

Taking this into account the court noted however that the government had no stated policy to that effect, and that policy could change.  Senator Norris could theoretically face criminal prosecution,

To make him live with that risk was a breach of his right to private life under the European Human Rights Convention.

The judgement in favour of David Norris was given by eight votes to six.  Mr Justice Brian Walsh, the Irish member of the court, was among those dissenting.  The government was ordered to pay costs of approximately £15,000, and the claim for damages was rejected.  

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 October 1988.  The reporter is Eamonn Lawlor.