The European Union's top court has ruled that refugees facing jail for same-sex activity can constitute grounds for asylum.
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice ruled Thursday that laws allowing the imprisonment of homosexuals can be considered an act of persecution if routinely enforced.
It said that sexual orientation is "a characteristic fundamental to a person's identity," and they should not be forced to conceal it.
The case centered on a request by three men from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal who sought asylum in the Netherlands on the grounds of sexual persecution.
The court said it will be up to individual nations to assess asylum applications and decide whether the situation in the applicant's home country amounts to persecution.