London - British transsexuals will be allowed to marry in their adopted sex under proposals announced on Friday.

The country is currently just one of four in Europe that refuse to recognise sex changes, the others being Ireland, Andorra and Albania.

The proposals would reinstate legal recognition of the country's 5 000 transsexuals, which they lost in a landmark ruling in 1970.

"Our legislation will enable transsexual people confidently to take up those rights which have been denied to them in society, including the right to marry in their acquired gender," Parliamentary Secretary Rosie Winterton said in a statement.

The proposal, which still has to pass before parliament, follows a landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in July, which said Britain was breaching transsexuals' human rights.

Britain spawned one of the world's most famous transsexuals - Caroline Cossey a "Bond girl" in the 007 thriller For Your Eyes Only.

If passed, the new legislation would also give transsexuals the right to new birth certificates in their adopted sex and the right to claim pensions at the appropriate age: 60 years for women and 65 years for men.

Transsexual rights became an issue in 1970 when the High Court annulled the marriage of transsexual April Ashley to English aristocrat Arthur Corbett.

In July, two British transsexuals won legal recognition as women in the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the United Kingdom had violated their rights to privacy and family life.

Christine Goodwin, 65, formerly a male truck driver, claimed she faced sexual harassment at work during her sex change and complained she had to pay National Insurance contributions until the age of 65 instead of 60 because she was still legally a man.