The Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg (VGH), Germany ruled on Friday that a Muslim man was rightly denied the German citizenship because of his refusal to shake the hand of a woman, as he viewed it as “danger of sexual temptation”.
According to details, a 40-year old Lebanese doctor, who came to Germany in 2002, applied for citizenship through naturalization in 2012. Though he aced the naturalization test, his citizenship was cancelled at the final stage of the process. During his citizenship ceremony, he refused to shake hands with the female bureaucrat, officiating his hearing. As a result, the woman withheld his certificate and rejected his application.
Defending his actions, the man appealed to the VGH, and stated that he had made a promise to his wife never to touch another woman. However, the court found that refusal to shake hands on gender-specific grounds is in breach of the sexual equality principles laid down in the German constitution. The judge further stated that the handshake symbolizes the conclusion of a contract and is deeply rooted in social, cultural, and legal life. Thus it was concluded that those who are able to demonstrate that they can live according to the values set out in the German constitution are entitled to the German citizenship
Although handshake is a questionable practice nowadays, thanks to COVID-19, the judge was convinced that the practice would survive the global pandemic.
This is, however, not the first time citizenship across European countries was denied on the bases of refusal to shake hands with people of the opposite sex for religious reasons. In 2018, a Muslim couple was denied Swiss citizenship because of a lack of respect for gender equality. According to details, the couple’s application was rejected after they refused to shake hands with people of the opposite sex during their interview.