Does suggesting someone is gay violate their right to respect for private life?

The European Court of Human Rights has been called upon to consider whether media speculation about the sexual orientation of a 'celebrity' violates rights protected under the Convention.

In Paulina Rubio Dosamantes v Spain the applicant has alleged that rumours circulating in the media that she is bisexual or homosexual constitute an infringement of her right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the Convention. This claim has previously been considered by the domestic Spanish courts, the outcome of which the applicant also complains about under Article 6.

Paulina Rubio is a well known singer in Spain. Her complaint about speculation in three television programmes about her sexual orientation has already been considered by the Spanish courts. The domestic courts rejected her complaint that discussion of her sexual orientation adversely affected her 'honour' because homosexuality could not currently be understood as 'disgraceful'. Her privacy claim was also rejected because the applicant was said to have tacitly consented to the controversy over her sexual orientation and 'played' with it for promotion.

The Court has ruled that the applicant's Article 6 complaint is inadmissible. However, in respect of the Article 8 complaint, the court has decided that it 'does not consider itself in a position to rule on the admissibility of this complaint and considers it necessary to communicate this part of the application to the respondent Government'. The Court has therefore (somewhat unusually) adjourned its decision on the Article 8 issue and will return to it in due course.