July 17, 2014 – Reported by Courthouse News Service – European Union member states cannot ask intrusive questions or require evidence of homosexual activity to verify a request for asylum based on sexual orientation, an adviser to Europe’s highest court held Thursday.
The Geneva Convention and European law allow third-country nationals with a reasonable fear of persecution in their home country to request asylum in the EU. Last year, the EU high court extended those protections to three gay African men who feared reprisals, including fines and long prison sentences.
More recently, men identified as A, B and C requested asylum in the Netherlands because they feared harassment in their own countries. Dutch authorities rejected their applications, and one minister expressed doubts as to whether the men are actually gay or simply claiming to be so for asylum purposes.
The men appealed to the Dutch Council of State, which noted that verifying sexual orientation is more complex than other grounds for persecution. Since EU law offers no guidance on how far member states can go to question an asylum seeker’s sexual orientation, the Dutch court asked the European Court of Justice for limits on conducting such credibility assessments.