Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Asylum Seekers Having to Undergo "Arousal Tests"

I was hoping I had read enough horrible things for one day after posting the previous post not even an hour ago, but I was clearly wrong.

BBC reports that asylum seekers in the Czech Republic have had to undergo 'arousal tests' to determine whether or not they are truly gay, since being homosexual is a valid ground for seeking asylum. This is due to the appalling conditions that a lot of gay people face in their home countries, including violence, rape and persecution.

How this clear violation of human rights and integrity should be regarded as anything less than the persecution a lot of these men have to undergo in their home countries is unclear to me. The article reports that the men are made to watch heterosexual porn, and if they become aroused while watching, they are denied asylum. There is nothing to say that a man cannot get an erection from watching porn even if the actors are heterosexual. Besides, how is one tested if one is a bisexual male? As a bisexual male, having a relationship with a male is still going to make people do all sorts of atrocious things to you in the countries where homosexuality is illegal or completely unacceptable culturally.

Regardless of whether the test works or not, no one should have to go through sexual tests of any kind in order to determine whether or not someone should be granted asylum. According to the same logic, trafficked men and women should be ordered to perform certain sexual favours to prove that they are sex workers. (I know that being a sex worker, especially one held under coercion, doesn't automatically teaches you sex tricks, but it is a common misconception.) It is completely unacceptable, regardless of existing written consent. Come on, what are the asylum seekers going to do? Refuse to undergo the test and be sent back with all certainty? It is a ridiculous defence and would not hold anywhere.

This whole ordeal also strikes me as very unequal. Or perhaps they have thought of ways of testing lesbian women that I have not. I shudder at the sheer thought. Is this another one of those cases where male homosexuality is regarded at least doubly as 'awful' as women's? In either case, it is appalling.
Shame on you, Czech Republic!


  1. Apart from being a human rights violation, why don't the czech authorities use lesbian porn or gay (male) porn ? I think it would be more logical than using straight porn as potentially one of the people belongs to a sex you're attracted to. Though, you'd run into problems with men who self-identify as gay but are still aroused by women, but choose to sleep with men.

    Female arousal is possible to measure, but it is a harder procedure. In a documentary I watched it involved sitting in water and inserting a contraption into the key area.

    Perhaps, the czech government is being sexist when it only uses the test in men ;)

  2. Yeah, there is no question the way the test is conducted just opens up a lot of other questions.

    I can think of a few ways, but they would all also be horribly violating, so I'd rather not.

    Yes, I would define this as sexism, and it is quite prevalent when it comes to male/female homosexuality where female homosexual acts is frequently used by straight males as porn, and is viewed as something beautiful, arousing, while male homosexuality is more often viewed as deviant and disgusting. It's offensive in both cases, methinks.

  3. "female homosexual acts is frequently used by straight males as porn, and is viewed as something beautiful, arousing, while male homosexuality is more often viewed as deviant and disgusting. It's offensive in both cases"

    I guess the reason why straight men may find gay sex disgusting is exactly because they are straight. I mean there are gay men who find the idea of having sex with women unappealing or even disgusting.

    Disgust is a natural feeling (e.g. disgust over sibling sex) but if the rights of people to do as they wish is respected I don't see why either case would be 'offensive'. Though, I guess you have the full right to be offended ;)

  4. I mean the judgement, not the individual reaction. Reactions can't be helped (although I'd argue they can be taught away, or at least subdued). Male homosexuality is regarded as more disgusting in society than female homosexuality. It is hypocrisy. I don't believe homosexuality should be regarded with disgust at all. Period. But if people do, it is stupid that one sort should be preferred over the other.

    The problem with your argument is that people are not allowed to do as they wish. That's the entire issue with homosexual men and women having to seek asylum, but even in countries where homosexuality isn't illegal anymore, discrimination based upon sexuality still occurs because of moral values people attach to it. I can't control people's thoughts or feelings, neither do I have the wish to, but what can be controlled is how they are mirrored in society, and homophobia is never justified.

  5. Aye I remember reading from Jesse Bering's blog "Bering in Mind" in Scientific American (best evolutionary psychology blog online) where he laments that he as a homosexual is restrained to show the same type of affection (hand holding and kissing) to his partner as straight couples due to societal norms.

    I guess as more and more homosexuals (e.g. Gok Wan, Ellen DeGeneris, Alan Carr, etc.) are on are portrayed in the media, the more 'normalized' it becomes and people would become more accepting.

  6. Yes, I hope so. And I also believe that what you say is the right way to go about it. Ignorance often leads to mistakes, such as homophobia.