The term ‘private life’ is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. Other than ‘privacy’, the notion ‘private life’ is not confined to a secluded space free from interference by others. To a certain extent, it also encompasses the relationships of an individual with his social environment, the protection of personality rights and personal autonomy as well the possibility to personal development.
The European Court of Human Rights has given an overview of aspects falling under the scope of ‘private life’ as protected by article 8 ECHR in the case Pretty v UK:
‘As the Court has had previous occasion to remark, the concept of “private life” is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. It covers the physical and psychological integrity of a person. It can sometimes embrace aspects of an individual’s physical and social identity. Elements such as, for example, gender identification, name and sexual orientation and sexual life fall within the personal sphere protected by Article 8. Article 8 also protects a right to personal development, and the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings and the outside world. Although no previous case has established as such any right to self-determination as being contained in Article 8 of the Convention, the Court considers that the notion of personal autonomy is an important principle underlying the interpretation of its guarantees’
Thus, the scope of the right to private life under article 8 ECHR encompasses (but is not limited to) the following aspects:
- physical integrity
- sex life, sexual orientation and sexual identity