In yet another sign of positive change in the new EU states, a gay man has won damages after being denied a job as a masseur because of his sexuality.

Lech Sydor, a 43-year-old Czech citizen, was awarded 70,000 koruna (£1,660) and received an apology for his treatment, AFP reports.

The landmark ruling is the first time that a Czech court has ruled on an issue of work discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Mr Sydor had been promised a job as a masseur at a health centre, but when the manager found out he is gay he refused to hire him.

In court the centre’s management said they had found a better qualified candidate for the job.

The gay rights group Gay Iniciativa welcomed the decision, which follows last year’s successful campaign to allow gay and lesbian couples in the Czech Republic to register their partnerships.

As reported on PinkNews.co.uk over 200 couples have taken advantage of their new legal status since July 2006.

Gay rights campaigner Jiri Hromada, speaking about the discrimination ruling, told AFP, “This is the first time in this country that a court has recognised discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference.

“It is a precedent. We hope it will encourage others not to fear launching similar proceedings.”