Gay bomb proposal wins satirical prize

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Preliminary research by the US Armed Forces into the development of a so-called “gay bomb” has won an Ig Nobel prize at an awards ceremony at Harvard University.

Organised by the scientific magazine Annals of Improbable Research, the Ig Nobels are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and reward ten achievements that, “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

As reported by in June, documents obtained under freedom of information laws in the United States confirmed that in 1994 the US Air Force research department requested $7.5m (£3.8m) to create a weapon that would release a chemical causing enemy soldiers to become sexually attracted to each other.

The editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, Marc Abrahams, who created the Ig Nobel awards, said:

“We don’t know if this document was the start and end of it or whether, in fact, this project continued and perhaps continues to this day.”

The proposal described the weapons as “distasteful but completely non-lethal.” Pentagon officials blocked the project.

Edward Hammond used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the proposal and passed it to CBS television.

“The Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another,” Mr Hammond told CBS.

“The notion was that a chemical that would probably be pleasant in the human body in low quantities could be identified, and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical, the notion was that soldiers would become gay.”

Gay groups in the US, where openly gay, bisexual and lesbian people are banned from serving in the military, expressed disgust at the idea of a “gay bomb.”

“Throughout history we have had many brave men and women who are gay and lesbian serving the military with distinction,” Geoff Kors of Equality California said in a statement.

“So, it’s just offensive that they think by turning people gay that the other military would be incapable of doing their job.

“And it’s absurd because there’s so much medical data that shows that sexual orientation is immutable and cannot be changed.”

Scientists who found that Viagra helps hamsters overcome jet-lag were also honoured with an Ig Nobel prize at the ceremony, which was attened by real Nobel prize recipients.