The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that homosexuality can be grounds for asylum in the EU.
The ruling comes in the cases of three men -- from Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Senegal -- who sought refugee status in the Netherlands.
They insisted they had a "well-founded fear" of being persecuted because of their sexual orientation.
The Dutch Immigration and Asylum Ministry had declined their request.
In a later appeal, it suggested that homosexuals can exercise "restraint" to avoid persecution.
The ECJ rejected the Dutch policy, saying that "a person’s sexual orientation is a characteristic so fundamental to his identity that he should not be forced to renounce it."
The three joint cases have now been referred back to the Dutch authorities for the final verdict. ECJ rulings apply to all EU members.
Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and europa.eu