This past week a court in Kenya ruled that the use of anal probes could be used to determine a person’s sexuality. The ruling, which shocked human rights and LGBT activists both in Kenya and around the world, came after two young men challenged the legality of the evidence collected by these forced examinations.
According to local media reports:
They claim that after a search of their homes, they were compelled to undergo anal examinations after police obtained an order from a magistrate (a Miss Njagi) in Ukunda. The two men argue that the tests, which were conducted February 23, 2015, were degrading and a violation of their fundamental constitutional rights, including the Bill of Rights. The petitioners also argue that evidence derived from the forced anal examination and blood tests violated their right to a fair trial and should be disregarded.
Being gay is illegal in Kenya and can carry a jail sentence of up to 14 years. Judge Matthew Emukule, who ruled on the petition, told the court that, “I find no violation of human dignity, right to privacy and right to freedom of the petitioners.”
Forced anal examinations have long been considered torture by many within the international community. Amnesty International points out that Kenya has violated international agreements with this ruling, saying that, “Forced anal exams violate multiple treaties that Kenya has ratified, including the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
On top of the torture and humiliation suffered by those forced to undergo anal examinations, the tests serve absolutely no medical purpose.
In 2012 forced anal exams came under scrutiny in Lebanon after 36 people were arrested at a cinema and all were given forced anal examinations. LGBT activists demanded an end to these exams and the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) came out swinging against the practice, which was later banned.
According to LebMASH the test was first referenced in 1857 by Auguste Ambroise Tardieu. The test is supposed to look for abnormalities on the anus, such as scarring, tears, redness or ‘accumulations.’ Doctors with LebMASH counter that this presents an incredible misunderstanding of both human anatomy or various medical conditions which have nothing at all to do with human sexuality.
Scott Long, who has written extensively about the issue in Egypt, says that forced anal probing is often done to punish and humiliate:
Unquestionably the exams are torture. They prove nothing and have no medical basis, though their obsessed practitioners try to believe they do. Their only real function is to resemble rape, to hammer home the victim’s helpless abjection before pitiless power.
Such violations in Kenya, where nearly 90 percent of the country disapproves of homosexuality, are not uncommon. On more than one occasion videos and pictures of allegedly gay Kenyans have circulated on social media prompting ‘witch hunts’ within the country. According to reports, a number of victims ended up in the hospital after a series of brutal attacks. Although police occasionally stopped the violence from occurring, arrests against the perpetrators of that violence were rare.
And with this new precedent setting court case, anyone who is suspected of being homosexual in Kenya can now technically be brought in and forced into cruel and degrading anal exams by the police.
Human Rights Watch notes that, “The Kenyan case is the first case known to human rights activists in which victims anywhere in the world have attempted to use domestic courts to challenge the use of the exams.”
It is mind boggling that Judge Emukule literally greenlit sexual assault, clearly preferring forced anal exams to consensual homosexual sex. However, the fact that doctors and legal scholars would continue to advocate for this test shows just how dangerous anti-LGBT sentiment has become within the region.