Czech Republic’s Porn-Watching-Test is Today’s Gaydar Fail

via slap upside the head dot com

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), a leading human rights group, has criticized the Czech Republic for continuing to use a “sexual arousal” test on gay men seeking asylum. Applicants are hooked up to a penile plethysmograph (PPG), which measures blood flow to their junk, and then shown straight porn. Anyone who gets aroused is sent back to whatever country they came from.

In a statement, the agency said:

There are a number of problems with this situation, even apart from the fact that the reliability of ‘phallometric testing’ is questionable, since it is dubious whether it reaches sufficiently clear conclusions to be used as evidence in the processing of claims and in possible subsequent legal proceedings. This oblique practice would in any case not be appropriate as regards people who are bisexual.”

According to the BBC, the Czech Republic’s interior minister “reacted angrily” to the claims and said that so far, fewer than ten tests have been conducted and all have had the applicant’s full written consent. Also according to the BBC, this issue first came to light after a German court refused to send a gay Iranian man to the Czech Republic because he would be subjected to the test.

The devices first came into use in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s as a way to verify that men claiming to be gay in order to avoid military service really were. PPGs have also been used to determine whether sex offenders are likely to re-offend. As many as 20% of Canadian treatment programs for adolescent sex offenders, and 10% of American ones, use penile plethysmography to determine whether treatment will be effective. Last July, a Canadian tester was charged with sexual assault. Additionally, evidence from PPGs has been proven inadmissible in both Canadian and American courts.

This isn’t the first time a government has subjected people to testing to find out whether someone is gay. In the Cold War, the Canadian government developed a “fruit machine” that they a. actually called that and b. used to determine whether federal employees had “character weaknesses” (i.e. were of a homosexy persuasion) and would therefore be security risks using a similar combination of bogus science and porn. It didn’t work for them, either (note to Americans: the science behind the test came from your country).

In 1966, researchers said that “conclusive means to identify homosexual subjects was still out of reach.”

Which doesn’t explain why people keep trying to find one anyway.

Gayness is complicated business.

There have been studies that say being gay might be genetic.

It may or may not have to do with your mother.

Or your brain structure.

Or your environment.

And gaydar can be just as complicated.

A girl in a plaid flannel shirt with skinny jeans, combat boots, and another girl attached to her by the lips is probably gay, but she could also be a hipster with a drinking problem (or both). Similarly, even though there have been lots of studies showing that more lesbians and gay men are left-handed, or that in some cases brain structure can be different for non-gay people, it takes a very special type of person to go up to someone at a bar and say hey, baby, is your anterior commissure* larger or are you just happy to see me? And, I would suggest, federal governments are not that type of person.

Simply put: there is a reason that none of the tests meant to determine whether or not someone is gay work, and that reason is that everyone is different. Right now, while there are theories about genetics and environment, no one’s too clear on what makes people go gay (though there is reasonable evidence that looking at hot girls in menswear may play a role).

And more importantly, it doesn’t matter. While it is understandable that a government sheltering those seeking asylum would want to verify the legitimacy of any claims of persecution, there is something inherently disturbing about hooking someone up to a machine and forcing them to watch porn in order to do so. Not only is it highly invasive, potentially in violation of religious beliefs, and just gross, it doesn’t even work. The rest of the European Union has stopped using phallometric testing on gay people seeking asylum. It’s time the Czech Republic did the same.

*Bigger for lesbians.

Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Consultant, and was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor, for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 933 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. Wow, I thought they only used those testing methods for cheap thrills on Eurotrash.

    Putting aside the sheer ridiculousness of this test, at least that guy would have a chance of passing the test, because blokes are generally shown to have narrower porn tastes when it comes to gender, whereas as women get turned on by anything.

    The above sweeping statement is definitely true because I am sure I saw it somewhere. Probably Eurotrash.

    Also, I am saddened/disappointed that the word “tumescence” was not used anywhere in this article, which is usually the only bright spot in any silly sexual arousal testing story.

    • I also heard that about men and women! That men tend to be consistent with their self-percieved sexuality, while women are turned on by all sorts. It’s interesting, I wonder if it’s really true and why that would be? (And, well, it’s true in my case anyway.)

      But gay men finding a woman and a man having sex isn’t weird though. The appropriate porn for that test would be lesbian porn. Because If I was a gay man watching a naked man, i MIGHT be turned on. Just saying.

      • Maybe it’s because women being turned on at all by porn is still perceived as ‘going against social norms’ by a lot of people, while guys are expected to be aroused by porn, so there’s kinda a subconscious influence for guys that women don’t get

  2. Remember the study in the 1990s that showed homophobic men were significantly more sexually aroused when watching male gay porn compared to non-homophobic men?

    That doesn’t bode well for the Czech’s gay dick test.

  3. This is, of course, bad and ridic. However, I must point out that showing them straight porn makes no sense. There’s still a dude in there; at least give ’em lesbian porn.

  4. Pingback: Czech government told to stop use porn tests on gays – ChicagoPride.com

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