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This article examines pressure group legal activity on issues of equality for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Part I argues that in the present political climate litigation offers the best hope of achieving progressive political change. It goes on to discuss both the contribution that a pressure group litigation strategy can make to the constitutional process of litigating the human rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals persons and the dangers that litigation poses to the constituency as a whole.

Part II examines a recent test-case “loss” by Stonewall at the European Court of Justice in Grant v South-West Trains. It argues that for reasons of litigation strategy, it may have been better to withdraw the case of Lisa Grant and allow the case of Terence Perkins to go first to the ECJ to determine whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is “sex discrimination” under EC law. It concludes that whether or not Stonewall was correct in pressing ahead with the Grant case, the organisation around the Grant litigation exposes significant lacunas in Stonewall's approach to the creation and implementation of legal strategy.

Part III argues that if Stonewall and other groups are to be successful, they and their lawyers must create similar institutional structures to those of their North American counterparts in the creation and execution of their litigation strategies. By adopting organisational structures of participatory litigation, working-group lawyering and coalition-building, pressure groups and cause lawyers will be better able to fulfil their constitutional role in Britain's human rights regime.

Keywords: Bisexuals; Equality; European Courts of Justice; Gays; Grant v Southwest Trains; Human Rights; Lesbians; Stonewall; Terence Perkins

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.
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