European Court Rules Out Boner Tests for Gay Asylum Seekers

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epa04279587 View of the court's entrance building prior to the hearing of the Shepherd case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Luxembourg 25 June 2014. Andre Shepherd is a US Army specialist and deserter who applied for asylum in Germany in 2008. Mr. Shepherd is the first US deserter to seek asylum in Europe.  EPA/NICOLAS BOUVY
Photo: Nicolas Bouvy/EPA/Corbis

Gay asylum seekers in Europe can no longer be forced to watch porn while a machine measures their erections, a court ruled Tuesday. The reason, other than false negatives for guys who can’t get it up under pressure, is that asylum applicants are people, and as such have the right to dignity. 

So-called “phallometric tests” are just one of the measures outlawed by the European Court of Justice. The court also ruled that immigration officials can’t require an applicant to submit videos or photos of intimate acts as proof, or excessively question applicants about intimate activity. The decision comes after three asylum seekers appealed being denied asylum by the Netherlands because they couldn’t sufficiently prove their homosexuality. One of three is said to have come from Uganda, and another from a Middle Eastern country.

Moreover, the court said that such graphic evidence should not be considered, even if submitted by the applicants themselves. “The effect of authorizing or accepting such types of evidence would be to incite other applicants to offer the same and would lead, de facto, to requiring applicants to provide such evidence,” the ruling read. Reluctance to openly announce gayness (perhaps because the applicant is from a country where he spent his whole life hiding said sexuality from authorities) also can’t be used as evidence of deceit. 

The court’s solution? Authorities should use gaydar, among other non-degrading methods.

Europe Nixes Erection Test for Gay Asylum Cases