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EU court blocks 'gay tests' for asylum-seekers

January 25, 2018

The European Court of Justice has ruled that sexual orientation tests can't be used to rule on asylum applications. Hungarian officials sought to examine a Nigerian man's application on the grounds that he is gay.

Demo for homosexual refugees
Image: DW/C. Chebbi

Hungarian immigration officials were wrong to make a Nigerian asylum applicant undergo psychological tests to determine whether or not he was gay, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Thursday.

The ruling effectively bans the testing of sexual orientation to determine the right to asylum, declaring it to be "disproportionate" and an invasion of "the most intimate aspects" of life.

Read more: Nigeria arrests 53 over gay wedding

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The case in detail

The man, who was not named in the ruling, had made his application at a time of high immigration to Hungary from the Middle East and Africa. The right-wing government has been at the forefront of attempts, especially among former communist states in the east, to harden the European Union's frontiers against asylum seekers.

- The man made his claim for asylum in the southern city of Szeged in April 2015.

- His claim was that, as a homosexual man, he faced prosecution back home in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal and where the maximum penalty in some northern states is death by stoning.

- Hungarian authorities rejected the application based on psychological tests that required the man to draw a picture of a person in the rain and describe his perceptions of inkblots.

- The ECJ ruled that, though it is acceptable for authorities to seek expert opinions, these should be obtained in a way that is consistent with human rights standards.

'Disproportionate interference'

The ECJ ruled that "the performance of such a test amounts to a disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum-seeker."

Judges at the Luxembourg court ruled that such interference is "particularly serious because it is intended to give an insight into the most intimate aspects of the asylum-seeker's life."

They also said the reliability of such assessments was, in any case, disputed. The court said authorities and courts could not "base their decision solely on the conclusions of an expert’s report and must not be bound by them."

Read more: Hostile environment for homosexual refugees

What is the situation in Nigeria? Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, some 97 percent of Nigerians believe homosexuality is an unacceptable way of life.

What status do homosexual people have in Hungary? Hungary has allowed same-sex sexual activity since 1962, relatively early compared with many countries that are now EU members. However, though Hungary allows same-sex unions, it does not recognize same-sex marriages or adoption by same-sex couples.

rc/rt (DPA, Reuters)