The Czech Republic has been condemned for using “phallometric testing” to check whether asylum seekers who claim to be gay are lying.
According to a report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the practice tests the physical reaction to heterosexual pornographic material.
It is apparently used on people who apply for asylum on the basis of suffering homophobic persecution.
According to information provided by the Czech Ministry of the Interior, ‘phallometric testing’ for asylum seekers who claim to be gay may be used “where inconsistencies appear in [an] interview”.
This procedure came to light in a German court regarding the claim of a gay Iranian man.
In principle, asylum seekers cannot be forced to undergo the test and must give written consent and be fully briefed about the technique. However, those who refuse the test may be assumed to be lying and may fear that their application will be rejected outright if they refuse.
In addition, bisexual people are unlikely to pass the test.
Hungary is also said to have been using psychiatrists to test whether asylum seekers are really gay.
The FRA says that the practice violates international human rights laws which prohibit torture and inhumane or degrading treatment. It may also violate provisions around the right to a private life.
The agency added that the use of such tests was particularly inappropriate for asylum seekers because “many of them might have suffered abuse due to their sexual orientation and are thus specifically constrained by this kind of exposure”.
The UN Refugee Agency says that “self-identification as LGBT should be taken as an indication of the individual’s sexual orientation”, and that any doubt should benefit the asylum seeker.
Paul Canning is a gay rights activist and the webmaster for LGBT Asylum News.