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27 Jan, 2018 02:49

Invasion of privacy? EU court slams ‘gay tests’ for persecuted asylum seekers (DEBATE)

The European Court of Justice has ruled it is wrong to question asylum seekers’ claims of persecution for their homosexuality. RT guests discuss whether psychological testing is justifiable and what possible alternatives exist.

“An asylum seeker may not be subjected to a psychological test in order to determine his sexual orientation,” according to a ruling by the European Court of Justice published on Thursday after a Nigerian man complained of having undergone such testing in Hungary.

“The performance of such a test amounts to a disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum seeker,” the court ruled.

The court’s ruling has ignited an ethical debate about the boundaries of the state’s interference in one’s private life. The court examined the case of an unnamed man from Nigeria, who submitted his asylum application to Hungarian authorities in the city of Szeged in April 2015. At that time Hungary was experiencing a huge influx of asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East.

The man claimed he was homosexual and faced persecution in his own country. The authorities decided to subject him to a series of sexual orientation tests to determine if he was telling the truth. The man had to undergo the Rorschach test and Draw-a-Person-in-the-Rain tests along with other examinations.

On the basis of these exams, the Hungarian psychologist concluded in October 2015 that the Nigerian was not a homosexual, prompting the asylum seeker to file an appeal and seek justice in the EU court.

According to the court, the “recourse to a psychologist’s expert report” to determine the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is in fact “an interference with that person’s right to respect for his private life.”

“The impact of such an expert’s report on private life is disproportionate in relation to that objective,” the statement added.

Calling the test “completely unnecessary” and “incredibly intrusive,” Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, praised the court’s ruling. He said while it’s generally agreed that such tests cannot serve as a sole basis for determining sexuality, the ruling will be “very helpful”  to the countries where the human rights standards are not so “rigorous.”

Toni Bugle, Head of Mothers against Radical Islam and Sharia, however, argued that the EU court should not be deciding on the matter in the first place and must allow EU members to act within the scope of their national laws.

“It comes to European human rights coming in and poking and nosing, quite frankly. This is why some people want out of the EU, including myself, because this is a dictatorship,” she said. “It should never be the case we undermine experts’ opinion.”

Speaking about alternative options, Tatchell argued there are more reliable ways of determining sexual orientation, such as interviewing the person in question, his partners, family and friends, examining their love letters and arrest orders issued in their country of origin. Bugle, however, disputed the argument, saying that reading love letters “would be a far greater invasion of privacy.” Besides that, it’s unlikely that family or friends of an asylum seeker will be eager to testify if homosexuality is punishable by death in their countries, she pointed out.

Although there are no statistics on how many asylum seekers falsely report persecution, Bulge believes “there has to be a percentage of people who lied about being gay in order to access ... certain countries.” According to Tatchell, however, the number of people falsely making claims about their sexual orientation must be “very, very tiny.”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long been a harsh critic of migration and mandatory migrant quotas. He once called asylum seekers “a Trojan horse for terrorism” and “Muslim invaders.”

In September, Hungary claimed that fences on its borders with Croatia and Serbia had helped to cut the inflow of migrants by more than 99 percent since 2015. The country's border fence has been repeatedly criticized by other EU states, but Budapest has resisted pressure to remove it.