We wholeheartedly welcome the statement by Milena Vicenová, the Czech Republic’s permanent representative to the EU, that in this day and age, persecuting or demonstrating intolerance towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people is unacceptable (“Commissioner got the facts on asylum examination all wrong”, 26-31 May).
Indeed, the Czech Republic can take pride in being a model for some of its neighbours in the area of human rights, including for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
On behalf of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, we were also pleased to read her claim that the use of phallometric testing had been fully abandoned in asylum procedures carried out by, or under the authority of, Czech authorities.
Nevertheless, we take issue with her rebuttal of Cecilia Malmström’s statements on Czech asylum procedures. As a member of the European Commission, she must ensure that EU asylum law is implemented with due respect to human dignity and the right to privacy.
No justification can be provided for asking asylum-seekers to submit – even willingly – to a medical test that dramatically invades their privacy, and purports to reliably ‘test’ one of the most strictly, inalienably private emotions that human beings could have.
Medicine has not always been right, nor has it always given due consideration to ethics and morals; such is the case with phallometric testing. What if asylum-seekers were so afraid of failing this test that they would fail to demonstrate arousal? What if their religious beliefs prevented them from watching pornographic materials? And as for their ‘consent’, we must acknowledge the crucially vulnerable position of asylum-seekers: faced with the prospect of returning to a country that will imprison, torture, or execute them, who would ever say ‘No’ to a test offering them international protection?
We fully stand alongside the commissioner, whose work is informed by a 2010 report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), “Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”. The report states that, based on “information provided by the Czech Ministry of the Interior to the national expert of the FRA’s research network, phallometric testing may be proposed for an individual seeking international protection”.
We agree with the conclusion of the FRA that this probably constitutes a severe breach of fundamental rights to dignity and privacy.
With due respect to the responses provided by Czech authorities and their willingness to co-operate fully with the commissioner, we encourage the Commission to investigate this issue further and seek reassurance that Czech asylum procedures fully comply with international human-rights standards.
Michael Cashman MEP
Ulrike Lunacek MEP
Sophie In ‘t Veld MEP
Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP
Rui Tavares MEP
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