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A court says it's no longer slander in New York to falsely call someone gay.

A mid-level appeals court on Thursday wiped out decades of rulings, including its own, to say that society no longer treats false comments that someone is gay, lesbian or bisexual as defamation. Without defamation, there is no longer slander, the court ruled.

"These appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed," stated the unanimous decision written by Justice Thomas Mercure of the Appellate Division's Third Department based in Albany. While the decision sets new case law in New York now, it could still go to a definitive ruling by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

The New York decision finds that the comment is now "based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual."

The ruling stems from an incident in the Binghamton area. Mark Yonaty sued, claiming a woman spread a rumor she heard in hopes that Yonaty's girlfriend would break up with him. He said the comment hurt and ultimately destroyed the relationship. Yonaty and his attorney didn't respond to a request for comment. The decision, as in many defamation suits, provides few details.

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