A lesbian couple who were refused a joint tenancy in government housing in Gibraltar have won their UK appeal.

Three years ago, the Housing Allocation Committee refused to grant the unnamed couple a joint tenancy on the basis that they were unmarried.

Their victory in front of the Privy Council in London comes after their arguments were rejected by Gibraltar’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

Lawyers for the women had argued that the refusal breached their fundamental constitutional and human rights.

The two local courts had ruled the government was entitled to protect the ‘traditional family’ by favouring straight married couples when allocating state housing.

The Privy Council is the highest British court for Gibraltar and the victory represents a significant triumph for gay rights in the country.

Judges ruled that the government had “indirectly” discriminated against the couple. The case will set a precedent to ensure other gay couples in long-term relationships can access joint tenancies in government accommodation.

Equality rights campaigner Felix Alvarez, told the Gibraltar Chronicle that the ruling judgement would encourage other gay people to challenge discrimination.

“The judgment is very good news for the gay and lesbian community in Gibraltar,” he said.

“It is a major victory which opens up possibilities for progress and success on the road to equal treatment.”