Employers will break the law if they discriminate against gay people from next October, following a landmark ruling in the European Court of Human Rights.
A judgement last month ruled that gay employees have rights to privacy and protection against discrimination under the European Human Rights Convention.
From next October claims can be heard in employment tribunals when the Human Rights Act comes into effect.
The Strasbourg court ruled that the rights of four British ex-servicemen and women had been violated. `The intrusion into their private lives by asking intimate questions about sexual practices is incompatible with human rights,’ their barrister David Pannick told the court.
The right to privacy also protects employees from unauthorised eavesdropping on e-mails and phone calls.
Ruth Harvey, a partner at law firm Sheridans said: `It sets a precedent for gay rights claims to be made against employers.’