A gay, Canadian man, identified only as André, has come forward and said that he was not allowed into the United States because of messages on his phone. André says he was stopped from entering when U.S. border patrol checked his phone and found a message that led them to believe he was a sex worker.
The police found the post on Scruff, a gay hook-up app. The message said “looking for loads” which was interpreted by Customs as looking for paying sexual clients. This is a claim that 30 year-old André flat-out denies.
The whole experience has revealed many things. On top of André feeling “humiliated” it has also shown how powerless non-citizens actually are at border control stations. Customs personnel are entitled to refuse entry to people they might even just suspect of criminal behavior.
André says he has been stopped twice now. The first time was October last year and this is how he described his ordeal to Dailyxtra:
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, so I gave them the password and then I sat there for at least an hour or two. I missed my flight. He came back and just started grilling me. ‘Is this your email?’ and it was an email attached to a Craigslist account for sex ads. He asked me, ‘Is this your account on Scruff? Is this you on BBRT?’ I was like, ‘Yes, this is me.’”
Despite being humiliated, André again attempted to fly to New Orleans one month later. This time he had wiped his phone clear of sex apps. He says they did not ask for passwords this time, as they already had them. He claims he was once again chosen for further inspection. They checked his phone and computer and then refused him entry again. André claims they simply said to him:
“Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone.”
Jon Davidson, Legal director of Lambda Legal has reacted to this story with shock:
“This is outrageous. He should file a complaint. Their agents need cultural awareness training to not misunderstand that people who simply are leading a normal sex life are not prostitutes.”
Watch John Davidson discuss his legal work involving LGBT cases:
Featured image via YouTube