BEIRUT

World

EU court: homosexuality can be grounds for asylum

Activists carry a poster reading "we walk for you" during the Sixth Sofia Gay Pride Parade in Sofia, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

BRUSSELS: Refugees facing imprisonment in their home country because they are gay may have grounds to be granted asylum in the European Union, the 28-nation bloc's top court ruled Thursday.

The existence of laws imprisoning homosexuals "may constitute an act of persecution per se" if they are routinely enforced, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice ruled.

A homosexual cannot be expected to conceal his sexual orientation in his home country to avoid persecution, since it would amount to renouncing a "characteristic fundamental to a person's identity," the court added.

International treaties say people must prove they have a "well-founded fear" of persecution for reasons of race, religion, ethnicity or political opinion if they are to obtain asylum.

The European court ruled on the cases of three people from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal seeking asylum in the Netherlands.

Worldwide, more than 70 countries have laws that are used to criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the International Commission of Jurists, an advocacy group. The laws typically prohibit either certain types of sexual activity or contain a blanket ban on intimacy and sexual activity between members of the same sex.

The human rights group Amnesty International says homosexuality is "increasingly criminalized across Africa," with 36 nations there having laws against same-sex conduct. In addition, many predominantly Muslim nations like Iran, Kuwait or Afghanistan outlaw homosexuality.

In some nations, however, the laws are rarely enforced. The court said it will be up to Europe's national authorities to determine whether the situation in an applicant's home country amounts to persecution.

Some European Union member states already accept sexual orientation as a reason for granting asylum under certain circumstances, but the ECJ's ruling clarifies that policy and makes it binding for all 28 EU nations.

It still remains unclear how national authorities should check a person's claim of being homosexual. The European Court of Justice isn't expected to rule on that issue before next year.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here