S v United Kingdom: ECHR 1986

The applicant was not entitled in domestic law to succeed to a tenancy on the death of her partner. The aim of the legislation is question was to protect the family, a goal similar to the protection of the right to respect for family life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention. The aim itself is clearly legitimate. The question remains, however, whether it was justified to protect families but not to give similar protection to other stable relationships. The Commission considers that the family (to which the relationship of heterosexual unmarried couples living together as husband and wife can be assimilated) merits special protection in society and it sees no reason why a High Contracting Power should not afford particular assistance to families. The Commission therefore accepted that the difference in treatment between the applicant and somebody in the same position whose partner had been of the opposite sex can be objectively and reasonably justified. And ‘The Commission notes that the applicant was occupying the house, of which her partner had been the tenant, without any legal title whatsoever. Contractual relations were established between the local authority and the deceased partner and that contractual agreement may or may not have permitted long-term visitors. The fact remains, however, that on the death of the partner, under the ordinary law, the applicant was no longer entitled to remain in the house, and the local authority was entitled to possession so that the house could no longer be regarded as ‘home’ for the applicant within the meaning of Article 8.’
A stable homosexual relationship between two men does not fall within the scope of the right to respect for family life, but that such a relationship may be a matter affecting private life


[1986] 47 D and R 274, 11716/85, (1986) 47 DR 274


European Convention on Human Rights 8


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedGrant v South West Trains Ltd ECJ 17-Feb-1998
A company’s ban on the provision of travel perks to same sex partners of employees did not constitute breach of European sex discrimination law. An employer’s policy was not necessarily to be incorporated into the contract of employment. The court . .
CitedGhaidan v Godin-Mendoza CA 5-Nov-2002
The applicant sought to succeed to the tenancy of his deceased homosexual partner as his partner rather than as a member of his family.
Held: A court is bound by any decision within the normal hierachy of domestic authority as to the meaning . .
CitedLondon Borough of Harrow v Qazi HL 31-Jul-2003
The applicant had held a joint tenancy of the respondent. His partner gave notice and left, and the property was taken into possession. The claimant claimed restoration of his tenancy saying the order did not respect his right to a private life and . .
SupercededKarner v Austria ECHR 24-Jul-2003
A surviving same-sex partner sought a right of succession to a tenancy (of their previously shared flat). Interveners ‘pointed out that a growing number of national courts in European and other democratic societies require equal treatment of . .
SupercededGhaidan v Godin-Mendoza HL 21-Jun-2004
Same Sex Partner Entitled to tenancy Succession
The protected tenant had died. His same-sex partner sought a statutory inheritance of the tenancy.
Held: His appeal succeeded. The Fitzpatrick case referred to the position before the 1998 Act: ‘Discriminatory law undermines the rule of law . .
CitedFitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd HL 28-Oct-1999
Same Sex Paartner to Inherit as Family Member
The claimant had lived with the original tenant in a stable and long standing homosexual relationship at the deceased’s flat. After the tenant’s death he sought a statutory tenancy as a spouse of the deceased. The Act had been extended to include as . .
CitedKay and Another v London Borough of Lambeth and others; Leeds City Council v Price and others and others HL 8-Mar-2006
In each case the local authority sought to recover possession of its own land. In the Lambeth case, they asserted this right as against an overstaying former tenant, and in the Leeds case as against gypsies. In each case the occupiers said that the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Discrimination, Housing

Updated: 08 July 2022; Ref: scu.182209