European Court of Human Rights: Persecuted Gays from Africa Have Grounds for Asylum


The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that persecuted gays in African have grounds for asylum, offering an opinion in a case brought by The Netherlands concerning three gay citizens from Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, the BBC reports:

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says asylum can be granted in cases where people are actually jailed for homosexuality in their home country.
ECJ rulings apply to all EU members.

Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana.
In June a report by Amnesty International said homophobic attacks had reached dangerous levels in sub-Saharan Africa and must stop.

The ECJ judgment on Thursday was a response to the Dutch Council of State, a top advisory body, which had asked whether homosexuals could be considered a "particular social group" and whether criminalisation and possible imprisonment amounted to persecution.

The ECJ says laws specifically targeting homosexuals do make them a separate group.
But it is up to the national authorities – in this case the Netherlands – to determine "whether, in the applicant's country of origin, the term of imprisonment… is applied in practice".


  1. JMC says

    the Dutch Council of State, a top advisory body, which had asked whether […] criminalisation and possible imprisonment amounted to persecution.

    Lol… um?? They couldn’t figure this one out for themselves?

  2. Jerry says

    A momentous decision, and one that will be welcomed by those LGBTs facing persecution in their home countries. Another decision reached at the same time by the Court held that the absence of a civil partnership for same-sex couples in Greece constitutes a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life).

  3. tcw says

    ECJ and ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) are different courts, FYI. One is for the (small-ish) EU member states; the other is for all members of the (much larger) Council of Europe–which includes Russia.

  4. EchtKultig says

    This is nice in theory, but, how are they going to prove such refugees are gay? Most people in these countries would probably love asylum in Europe. Sorry, it’s true: post-colonial political correctedness be damned.

  5. GregV says

    @Echtkultig: The homophobia is so extreme in the countries in question that the stigma would be too great to tempt many heterosexuals into making false vlaims of being gay. (Those who already experience that stigma at home have nothing more to lose by stating the truth in the Netherlands, whereas those who ate straight would be newly opening up an endangerment to the lives of themselves and their families if and when they go back).
    I don’t recall ever hearing of a single bona fide case of someone faking it to gain asylum. I have only seen that suggested by immigration authorities (some of whom clearly don’t understand what being gay means) when a televized interview made it very clear to anyone with the timiest smidgen of gaydar that the refugee was telling the truth.

    I suppose if it came down to it, there are ways to verify orientation scientifically (though they might be seen as invasive — which might not matter). For example, there is the penile tumescence test thet was used at the University of Georgia. Men who were not homophobic and self-labeled as heterosexual showed no penile reaction to same-sex porn. Those who self-labeled as gay showed mesurable increases in penis engorgement when shown the same-sex porn. ((The effect could no doubt be exaggerated in gsy subjects by having a handsome doctor attach the apparatus!)

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