Testing Sexual Orientation: A Scientific and Legal Analysis of Plethysmography in Asylum & Refugee Status Proceedings

Published: February 1, 2011

Testing Sexual Orientation:
A Scientific and Legal Analysis
of Plethysmography
in Asylum & Refugee Status Proceedings
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
2. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND …………………………………………………………………………… 2
3. SCOPE OF RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS…………………………………………………………………………… 2
4. MECHANICS OF PENILE PLETHYSMOGRAPHY AND VAGINAL
PHOTOPLETHYSMOGRAPHY ………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
4.1. PENILE PLETHYSMOGRAPHY ……………………………………………………………………………………… 3
4.2. VAGINAL PHOTOPLETHYSMOGRAPHY ………………………………………………………………………….. 4
5. CURRENT APPLICATIONS OF PLETHYSMOGRAPHY ……………………………………………………….. 4
5.1. USE IN DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF SEXUAL CONDITIONS …………………………………………….. 4
5.2. TREATMENT OF SEX OFFENDERS ………………………………………………………………………………… 5
5.3. EXTINGUISHING (“TREATING”) HOMOSEXUALITY ……………………………………………………………. 5
6. PLETHYSMOGRAPHY REJECTED BY COURTS AS SCIENTIFICALLY NON-CREDIBLE
EVIDENCE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
6.1. REJECTION UNDER THE FRYE TEST ……………………………………………………………………………… 6
6.2. REJECTION UNDER THE DAUBERT TEST ………………………………………………………………………… 6
7. LACK OF SCIENTIFIC SOUNDNESS OF PLETHYSMOGRAPHY ……………………………………………. 7
7.1. ABSENCE OF STANDARDIZATION OF CONDITIONS AND TERMS OF REFERENCE …………………………… 7
7.2. LACK OF RELIABILITY OF PLETHYSMOGRAPHIC TEST RESULTS ………………………………………………. 8
7.2.1. Differential Responses Between Males and Females …………………………………. 8
7.2.2. Failure to Account for Emotional Components of Attraction ……………………… 9
7.2.3. Failure to Detect Falsification of Physical Arousal ……………………………………. 10
7.3. SUBJECT SELECTION BIAS IN TESTING OF THE PLETHYSMOGRAPHIC METHOD ………………………….. 10
7.4. EXPERIMENTER BIAS IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON PLETHYSMOGRAPHY AND HOMOSEXUALITY …….. 12
8. LAWFULNESS AND ETHICS OF PLETHYSMOGRAPHY ……………………………………………………. 13
8.1. IMPLICATIONS FOR INHIBITION OF ACCESS TO ASYLUM ……………………………………………………. 13
8.1.1. Plethysmographic Testing Leading to Refoulement …………………………………. 14
8.1.2. Plethysmography as Degrading Treatment ……………………………………………… 15
8.2. VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY ……………………………………………………………………….. 17
8.3. VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO PROTECTION FROM MEDICAL ABUSES ……………………………………. 18
8.4. CONTRAVENTION OF RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL NORMS …………………………………………………. 19
9. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ………………………………………………………………….. 20
10. APPENDIX ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
FIGURE A. VOLUMETRIC PPG ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 21
FIGURE B. MERCURY IN RUBBER STRAIN GAUGE……………………………………………………………………. 21
FIGURE C. ELECTROMECHANICAL STRAIN GAUGE …………………………………………………………………… 22
FIGURE D. VAGINAL PHOTOPLETHYSMOGRAPH ……………………………………………………………………..22

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