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Lustig-Prean and Beckett v. the United Kingdom

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Investigations by the British armed forces into allegations of homosexuality of applicants and in particular the interviews, which were exceptionally intrusive, the administrative discharges which had a profound effect on the applicants' careers and prospects and the absolute and general character of the policy to discharge homosexuals, which admitted of no exception, constituted especially grave interferences with applicants' private lives. The British Government's core argument that the presence of homosexuals in the armed forces would have a substantial and negative effect on morale and, consequently, on the fighting power and operational effectiveness of the armed forces lacked concrete evidence. The Court also considered the widespread and consistently developing views or the legal changes in the domestic laws of Contracting States in favour of the admission of homosexuals into the armed forces of those States. Moreover, the test of irrationality applied by British courts to review Government decisions, whereby a court was not entitled to interfere with the exercise of an administrative discretion on substantive grounds save where that court was satisfied that the decision was unreasonable, in the sense that it was beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision-maker, placed the threshold so high that it effectively excluded any consideration by the domestic courts of the question of whether the interference with the applicants' private lives had answered a pressing social need or was proportionate to the national security and public order aims pursued by the Government, principles which lie at the heart of the Court's analysis under Article 8 and so did not provide an effective remedy.


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