Czechs deny ‘medieval’ penis pressure testing still in use

The Czech Interior Ministry hits back at charges of human rights from the EU over its method of measuring asylum seekers’ sexual arousal

Society|Foreign Affairs
Chris Johnstone | 18.05.2011
Malmström called the tests a huge violation of the right to privacy

The Czech Republic has hit back at European Commission criticism that it is using “medieval methods” by carrying out penis blood pressure tests to establish whether homosexual asylum seekers are really gay.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström on Tuesday picked out the Czech Republic for using the procedure and branded it “a pure medieval method and a huge violation of the individual’s rights to privacy.” “There is no question that this is politically unacceptable,” the Swedish Commissioner added on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The outburst has created some puzzlement in Prague. Interior Ministry spokesman Vladimír Řepka repeated its previous protestations that phallometric tests (so-called “peter meters”), under which an instrument is used to measure the subject’s sexual arousal when shown pornography and other images, have not been employed since 2009 and that the ministry no longer counts on their use.Tests to measure the subject’s sexual arousal when shown pornographic  images haven’t been employed since 2009, the ministry says.

“They were previously used to supplement other sexual diagnostic tests, and in the future we count on just using these,” he told Czech Position. This, apparently, is just what Brussels had expected to hear when it first broached the issue in December last year but the message has not got across in the in the intervening five months.  

“We had expected to receive assurances from the Czech side that these methods were not used in practice and would not be used in the future,” Malmström’s spokesman, Marcin Grabiec, told Czech Position on Wednesday. “We did not get that information in the previous reply,” he added.

On Tuesday, Brussels clerks dispatched another letter to Prague asking the government to explain itself over the use of phallometric tests, pointing out that previous explanation was unsatisfactory and had failed to assure it that EU asylum procedures and basic human rights were not being broken.

Řepka said he had not seen the latest Commission letter. In December, the ministry defended itself, saying that the tests had never been used more than 10 times in total and only when other methods failed to establish the truth of asylum seekers’ claims that they were being discriminated against because they were homosexual. Cases where the practice was used had helped asylum claimants prove their case and be given permission to stay in the country, the ministry statement in December said.

Homosexuality is severely punished in many Islamic countries with the death penalty applying in at least seven countries, including Iran, Sudan and Nigeria. That is one reason why homosexual asylum seekers seek refuge and asylum in Europe.

Father of phallometrics

Phallometric testing was actually pioneered by the Czech-born doctor Kurt Freund, who first made used of accurate measurements of blood flow to the penis to determine sexual arousal. His techniques were applied to recruits to the inter-war Czechoslovak army to weed out false homosexuals who were trying to evade compulsory military service. At the time, homosexuals were banned from the Czechoslovak army.

Freund was also involved in conversion therapy, trying to convince homosexuals to change their sexual preference, which was widely adopted in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s under the Communist regime. His conclusion and evidence that the therapy did not work contributed to the decriminalization of homosexuality in Czechoslovakia in 1961, according to Wikipedia.

In 1968, following the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact crushing of the Prague Spring, Freund fled to Canada where he continued his work. He died in 1996, with his ashes scattered in Toronto and Prague’s Bohunice Hospital, where he had worked for many years. 

Show comments
Comments:1

Comments

Czech Position values democratic discussion. Please respect the Terms of Service, which are intended to encourage correct and meaningful communications.

By entering your comment, you agree to these rules. We reserve the right to remove improper comments.

Thank you for your cooperation.

No tak byl takhle velkej!

No a co?

Hide comments

Popular content