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Dudgeon v. U.K . 45 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) at 14 (1981)

Facts: the applicant was a national of Northern Ireland who complained about the Northern Ireland law prohibiting consensual adult homosexuality. he relied on article 8 of the European Convention and argued the law infringed his right to private life. The Government claimed the law had the legitimate goal of protecting the morals of the citizens of Northern Ireland.

Holding: The ECHR found that the Northern Ireland's anti-sodomy laws did constitute an interference with Dudgeon's Article 8 right because it caused "detrimental effects on the life of a person of homosexual orientation like the applicant."

Reasoning: A person's sexual activities involve the "most intimate aspect of private life so there must exist serious reasons before interferences on the part of the public authorities can be legitimate for the purposes of Article 8 2."Northern Ireland claimed that the law protected public morals and the rights and freedoms of others. The ECHR ruled that the anti-sodomy laws did in fact serve these aims but that these laws were unnecessary to achieve these aims in a democratic society.

The Dudgeon holding was confirmed and expanded in Norris v. Ireland , 142 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) 10(i) (1988) and in Modinos v. Cyprus , 259 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1993)

 

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