A mid-level appeals court in Albany, New York has ruled that it is no longer slander to falsely describe someone as gay.

In its ruling, the court said that although historically, calling someone gay or lesbian has been sufficient grounds for slander, it is no longer the case because gay is no longer seen by society as negative.

The case concerns a man from Broome County, Mark Yonaty, who sued after being called ‘gay,’ because it hurt his relationship with a girlfriend.

Justice Thomas Mercure ruled that there has been a ‘tremendous evolution of social attitudes’ about homosexuality, and the concomitant increase in gay rights gave sufficient grounds to overturn previous rulings.

The word gay can be defamatory, and therefore slanderous, only when ‘based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual,’ the court said.