Gay murderers suing for right to date each other behind bars

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Two gay men jailed for murder are suing the Scottish government for their right to see each other behind bars.

Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan were both convicted in 2010 for the 1997 murder of Allison McGarrigle, who planned to report them for abusing a younger boy. They have also been convicted of sexual offences.

However, the 51-year-old and 37-year-old – who are held in separate prisons and are not allowed to contact each other – say their human rights are being violated by the rules.

O’Neill is held in HM Prison, Edinburgh, while Laughlan is detained in Glenochil Prison, Clackmannanshire.

In a lawsuit against the Scottish government this week, the pair claim they are being discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The pair’s petition, heard by the Court of Session in Edinburgh, said: “The respondents [the Scottish government] have failed to provide the petitioners with suitable and sufficient contact with each other.”

“Their relationship has suffered as a consequence of the treatment they have suffered.

“They have both felt frustration and distress at being unable to communicate with each other to a greater extent or to have face-to-face contact.

“This is particularly so when heterosexual couples have apparently been afforded greater contact with each other.”

The pair are looking to receive £35,000 in compensation, and permission for ‘exceptional circumstances’ visits between the two prisons.

Their counsel David Leighton argued: “This is a court of law and not a court of morals.

“They seek to rely on fundamental protections and fundamental rights which the law affords to all persons. They have these rights simply because they are human beings.

“The petitioners are both convicted criminals.

“Their position is they had a long-standing, homosexual relationship before their conviction and imprisonment and they seek contact with each other through letters, by telephone and in particular through what is called inter-prison visits, allowing face-to-face contact.”