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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Czechs 'phallometric testing' of gay asylum seekers, the madness continues

By Paul Canning

Not since the story of young gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi (after whom this website's URL is named and whose story gave birth to us) reached all main US TV networks plus the BBC 10 o'clock news has a gay asylum story gone as viral as this one.

But then the penis' test' now, kindof, dropped by the Czech Republic is about penises and is also about porn. For the Daily Mail, it also involves the European Union. As one Editor told me "it has all the elements".

Now De Spiegel has told the story of two Iranians subjected to the test and uncovered more about the test's history, and later today the LGBT refugee and asylum organisation Oram is releasing a report on 'phallometric testing' (which we will publish when it appears - now published).

Rahim and Karim (not their real names), fled in 2008 on the first flight they could get out of Iran - to Prague. They immediately applied for asylum at Ruzyne Airport saying that the Iranian police had been after them in their largely Baluchi home city of Zahedan (located near Pakistan and Afghanistan) and showed authorities the police summons ordering them to appear for questioning on charges of "amoral behavior."

The summons wasn't enough. The Czech Interior Ministry didn't believe they were gay and in danger. De Spiegel points out that during the communist era a claim to be homosexual was used by many thousands of Czech men to get out of having to perform compulsory military service, which may have affected how credible they were thought to be

This is where the 'phallometric testing' came in as, after being sent to a physician and sex therapist, the conclusion was that it was the only way to obtain 'hard evidence' (sic) of their sexual orientation

The Iranians had little choice but to consent.

De Spiegel goes on to describe the history of this test, which a Kurt Freund apparently first started developing in Prague in the 1950s - only that was in an attempt to "cure" gay men and lesbians. In the UK and USA similar 'treatment' at that time consisted of electric shock 'therapy'.

Amazingly the good doctor changed his mind as a result of not seeing his test 'cure' anyone and, partly as a result of his work, Czechoslovakia decriminalized homosexuality in 1961, six years before England and Wales.

Freund fled to Canada in 1968, in the wake of the Prague Spring. His device is now used routinely to assess sexual arousal among pedophiles and other male sex offenders and has serious scientific credibility on that score.

But despite Freud's disavowal of its use with homosexuals, his device lived on in the Czech Republic and apparently one (using a tampon-sized measuring device) was even used on a lesbian asylum seeker from Cameroon. Fortunately the one used on the Iranians did 'prove' they were gay - De Spiegel doesn't report the outcome for the poor Cameroonian woman subjected to it.

Allegedly it has been used in 8-10 cases and was last used earlier this year. Its use only came to light after another Iranian asylum seeker had fled to Germany after having been asked to submit to it. When German judges heard about the test during his deportation hearing they reversed their deportation order, arguing that the man could face the threat of "inhuman treatment" in the Czech Republic. A German regional appeals court and then the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2004 that it violated the 'freedom of volition' when it was suggested in a rape case.

The doctor who ordered the test be done on Rahim and Karim is bizarrely named Dr. Trojan (also a major American brand of condoms) and is also bizarrely involved in another scandal. A former patient claims that he offered to masturbate in front of her while she was under his treatment, and she says that she intends to produce video recordings as evidence.

Trojan insists that he was merely applying a method known as "demonstration therapy," which even he admits is "controversial." Although the method is not considered a criminal offence, the Czech medical association slapped Trojan with a fine of 20,000 Czech koruna (around €800 or $1,100).


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