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European ruling a setback for gays

Gay rights activists were shattered by a European Union high court ruling Tuesday against a British lesbian railroad clerk who sought travel benefits for her girlfriend.

It had been considered a test case on workplace equality for homosexuals across Europe."It's unbelievable that in this day and age we have a judgment that means that lesbians and gays effectively have no rights in the workplace," said Anya Palmer of the British gay rights group Stonewall.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said Britain's South West Trains did not violate EU law when it said the girlfriend of booking clerk Lisa Grant was ineligible for travel benefits available to the partners of heterosexual employees.

Lawyers for the couple, including Cherie Booth, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, argued the policy violated the EU's founding treaty, which guarantees "equal pay for equal work without discrimination based on sex."