Italy’s Supreme Court has refused to overrule a judge’s decision to revoke the deportation order of an illegal Senegalese migrant on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

Italy’s highest criminal court stated that “homosexuality is a condition of he human being deserving legal protection.”

The court announced that gay people who seek refuge from persecution in Italy would not be sent back to their countries of origin.

The judges recognised that “sexual freedom must be intended as freedom to live without interferences and restrictions with references to sexual preferences.”

Gay rights groups in Italy are delighted by the decision. Last week two men were arrested for kissing in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Politicians and campaigning groups say the arrests were symptomatic of a rising tide of homophobic harassment in Italy.

Italy’s pro-gay prime minister, Romano Prodi, promised after his election victory in April last year to improve Italy for the gay community and introduce a civil partnership law.