The European Court of Justice, which oversees asylum policy for all EU member states, said officials will not be allowed to interrogate LGBT applicants about their sexual activity as it undermines the applicant’s dignity and right to privacy, and thus contravenes European law.
Authorities will also not be allowed to request video or photographic evidence as “proof” of homosexuality.
Over the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of African refugees claiming asylum in the EU, as most African countries still regard homosexuality as a crime, the BBC reports.
Several EU states, as well as the UK, have been repeatedly criticised for their handling of such cases. “What’s happened with European authorities is that there’s been far too much of a fixation in relation to sex and conduct rather than analysis of identity outside the bedroom,” Neil Grungras, the founder of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) told Deutche Well.
He argues that asylum officials need to “ask the right questions” and do so “tentatively” so as not to further traumatize applicants.
In the Czech Republic, immigration officials have been condemned by UN, EU and human rights activists for conducting “sexual arousal tests” to determine the sexuality of asylum seekers. Applicants were shown heterosexual pornography and if they displayed signs of arousal, they were denied asylum, the BBC reports.
Home Office officials in the UK have also been criticised for their use of “intrusive and abusive” techniques to establish an applicant’s sexuality, often conducted without the presence of a lawyer. Earlier this year, leaked documents revealed the “shockingly degrading” questions asked by Home Office officials, including “What is it about men’s backsides that attracts you?” and “When x was penetrating you, did you have an erection?”, The Guardian reports.
The revelation sparked widespread condemnation, with gay rights organisation Stonewall saying it was evidence of “systematic homophobia” in the UK’s asylum system.