Toonen v Australia, CCPR/C/50/D/488 (1992)

Toonen v Australia, CCPR/C/50/D/488 (1992)

The UN Human Rights Committee evaluated a Tasmanian law criminalising sexual relations between consenting males. It concluded that the law violated Article 17(1) (right to privacy) in conjunction with Article 2(1) (non-discrimination) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Crucially, the Committee noted that the reference to “sex” in Article 26 (equality before the law) and in Article 2(1) included sexual orientation.

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Modinos v Cyprus, 16 Eur. H.R. Rep 485 (1993)

Modinos v Cyprus, 16 Eur. H.R. Rep 485 (1993)

The case was brought by a gay rights activist who stated that he suffered strain and apprehension owing to the criminalisation of homosexual acts under section 171 of the Criminal Code of Cyprus. He argued that such provisions interfered with his Article 8 rights (right to private life). The Court found for the applicant

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Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland, (14234/88) [1992] ECHR 68 (1992)

Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland, (14234/88) [1992] ECHR 68 (1992)

The applicants were two non-profit organisations which provided information about pregnancy-related options. The Irish Supreme Court imposed restrictions on the two companies prohibiting them from providing any information to pregnant women about abortion clinics in Great Britain. The European Court of Human Rights held that the injunction violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention. The case has broader implications as although Article 10 may be legitimately restricted in some circumstances, including for the protection of public morals, the Court held that state discretion in such matters is not ‘unfettered and unreviewable’, and that freedom of expression applies even to ideas ‘that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.’

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Commonwealth of Kentucky v Watson, Supreme Court of Kentucky (1992), 842 S.W.2d 487

Commonwealth of Kentucky v Watson, Supreme Court of Kentucky (1992), 842 S.W.2d 487

In this case the Supreme Court of Kentucky struck down the state sodomy law. The Court held that the statute violated the protection of privacy and equal protection under the Kentucky Constitution.

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Norris v Ireland, 13 Eur. H.R. Rep. 186 (1988)

Norris v Ireland, 13 Eur. H.R. Rep. 186 (1988)

The Irish Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 contained provisions criminalising ‘buggery’ between males. The applicant alleged at the European Court of Human Rights that such provisions violated his right to respect for private life in contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found for the applicant. While the applicant had never been prosecuted, the depression he suffered as a result of this risk, in the eyes of the court, meant that he had sufficient standing to bring the case before the European Court. 

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Dudgeon v United Kingdom, 4 Eur. H.R. Rep. 149 (1981)

Dudgeon v United Kingdom, 4 Eur. H.R. Rep. 149 (1981)

Mr. Dudgeon, a gay man, alleged that the existence in Northern Ireland of laws which have the effect of making certain homosexual acts between consenting adult males criminal offences, violated his right to respect for his private life. The European Court of Human Rights held that laws prohibiting certain homosexual acts between consenting adult males constituted an unjustified interference with Dudgeon’s rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to privacy).

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