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Forced anal examinations for gay men are stopped in Kenya

Forced anal examinations have largely been used to “prove” whether or not a man is homosexual in countries where homosexuality is criminalized. This practice has been decried by organizations across the globe as dehumanizing and as amounting to torture, not to mention being discredited by the scientific community as holding no value as proof.

A Court of Appeals in Kenya, led by a 5 judge bench, ruled that forced anal examinations are contrary to the law. Forced anal examinations have largely been used to “prove” whether or not a man is homosexual in countries where homosexuality is criminalized. This practice has been decried by organizations across the globe as dehumanizing and as amounting to torture, not to mention being discredited by the scientific community as holding no value as proof.

The case came to the courts after two suspected gay men were arrested in 2015 and forced to undergo both anal examinations and HIV tests, in order to determine if they had engaged in consensual intercourse.

The men were represented by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya, a leading LGBTIQ organization providing pro bono legal services to many in the community.

In a press release disseminated by NGLHRC, Njeri Gateru, Head of Legal Affairs, said: “We are thankful that the Appeal Court has put Kenyan citizens’ rights first. With this ruling, the judges are saying that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and afforded our basic rights, as enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution.”

Currently, under Kenya’s Penal Code, same-sex behavior is criminalized, with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Currently, Kenya’s High Court is considering a case that could decriminalize homosexuality, the next court hearing will be on April 26th.

While this is good news for Kenya, other countries continue to implement this practice. With ongoing and increasing crackdowns on LGBTIQ people, reportedly both Egyptian and Tanzanian authorities have forced alleged gay men to undergo anal exams.

An in-depth study on forced anal tests that Argawal published in 2017 in collaboration with the website www.lovegasm.co found that aside from Kenya, Egypt, and Tanzania; Cameroon, Lebanon, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia all use anal examinations as a means of determining a man’s sexuality.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International, commented on the ruling: “Forced anal examinations amount to torture, and no one should ever be exposed to such a degrading and dehumanizing experience. The Kenyan Courts ruled in favor of international law and in favor of human dignity. Other countries should follow suit and put an end to this discredited practice.”

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