Britain could end up in the dock at a European court if Bermuda fails to bring its human rights law up to date, a top lawyer has warned.

Saul Froomkin — a QC and former Solicitor General and Attorney General — was speaking after a rally in support of extending basic anti-discrimination protection to gay people outside the House of Assembly.

Mr Froomkin said that Britain — which is ultimately responsible for Bermuda — had signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.

He added: “The European Convention has been extended to Britain, but Bermuda has not yet enacted domestic legislation to comply with it in full terms.”

And he said: “Any complaint against Bermuda would have to be virtually a complaint against the United Kingdom in the European Court because Britain is responsible for external affairs.

“It would be interesting to see what would happen if a complaint was filed against the United Kingdom in the European Court of Human Rights for breach of the Convention.” The rally on Friday drew a crowd of up to 100 people as Community and Cultural Development Minister Wayne Scott tabled a bill to include both gay people and seniors in anti-discrimination legislation.

Mr Froomkin — who is Jewish — said: “I’m here for two reasons — one, I come from a people that has been discriminated against for 2,000 years and continue to be and my son is gay. I am vehemently opposed to discrimination against anyone for anything.”

Lawyer Rod Attride-Stirling said that, in the case of sexual discrimination, a Bermudian “could apply to the European Court today seeking a declaration that Bermuda law violates the European Convention and they would succeed.”

But he added: “No one would do it, because it’s so expensive.”

He added: “I believe Saul is right. In the same way Bermuda could be taken to the European Court, Britain itself, theoretically, could also be taken to the same court.”

And Mr Attride-Stirling said: “I am sure there are other issues which haven’t been focused on yet which would be the same.”

Mr Attride-Stirling said that Britain had signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and extended it to Bermuda. But he added that, while Britain had passed laws enabling European issues to be tested in UK courts in the late 1990s, which meant that people no longer had to take their cases to the European court, Bermuda had yet to pass similar legislation.

The death penalty is also outlawed by Europe and the island was warned prior to a vote on the issue in 1998 that if it failed to abolish hanging, Britain would do it for Bermuda by a Westminster Act of Parliament. n