Taylor Wessing takes anti-gay law case to ECHR

Taylor Wessing has taken on its first case since signing up to the Human Dignity Trust’s legal panel, representing two men arrested in Turkish-controlled Cyprus under a law that criminalized gay sex.

According to reports, on Sunday 29 January two inmates at Nicosia prison appeared in court charged with having “sexual intercourse against the order of nature”. The law – which carries a sentence of five years – is a piece of British Empire-era legislation that has not yet been repealed in Northern Cyprus, despite promises from politicians. Neither Turkey nor the Republic of Cyprus has similar legislation in their own countries.

Taylor Wessing’s head of pro bono Paul Callaghan is leading on the case, which is being taken to the European Court of Human Rights. It is being brought against Turkey, which retains control of Northern Cyprus. Callaghan has instructed 39 Essex Street’s Nigel Pleming QC and Blackstone Chambers’ Tom Mountford.

Taylor Wessing, which is doing the work pro bono, was instructed through its involvement with non-governmental organisation, the Human Dignity Trust, which aims to eradicate anti-gay laws across the word.

Taylor Wessing is one of 15 law firms that signed up to the Human Dignity Trust’s legal panel. The others are: Baker & McKenzie, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, Bindmans, Clifford Chance, Davis Wright Tremaine, Debevoise & Plimpton, Finers Stephens Innocent, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Leigh Day & Co, Webber Wentzel, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Wragge & Co.