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Court in Kenya Rules in Favor of Anal Exams As 'Evidence' of Being Homosexual

Kenya anal exams
Photo via Instagram @nitwajina

Considered a form of torture, these methods are still being used for legal discrimination in homophobic countries.

In Kenya, being gay can land you in prison for up to 14 years, sometimes more. Now, a court has ruled that law enforcement officials are allowed to force men suspected of homosexuality to be subjected to anal exams.

These exams--a method used in many countries that still prosecute homosexuality--have been branded by international medical experts as completely useless and ineffective when searching for evidence of sexual activity, and human rights groups have denounced the practice as a form of torture.

"This can happen to anyone," said Eric Gitari, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), a leading LGBT rights organization in Kenya. NGLHRC fears this development will enable the police to perform more aggressive "manhunts" on suspected gay individuals.

According to Gitari, Justice Matthew Emukule said in court that "anal testing is a reasonable means of proving that someone had committed a crime," and added that "the purpose of the rectum is to excrete solid waste--if adults want to engage in sodomy they should know that it's a crime."

NGLHRC's legal aides brought this suit on behalf of two young men who were arrested in 2015, charged with participating in an alleged gay porn ring outside the city of Mombasa. The men face up to 26 years in prison for charges that include unnatural acts, indecent acts between adults, and trafficking obscene materials.

NGLHRC challenged the use of the anal exams as evidence in the case, but the court ruled against their appeal.

In early 2015, a local blogger published images from a cell phone stolen from a gay man that included sexual images taken of friends and pornography downloaded from the internet. Some of those images were published by The Star, one of Kenya's largest newspapers, resulting in some arrests of suspected homosexuals by local officials.

Gitari said the two arrested were targeted based on "rumor", and only one of them was pictured on the stolen cell phone--a single, G-rated picture from the beach in which he's portrayed shirtless. The man, in his early 20s, was assaulted by a mob when the police picked him up.

The men were arrested and asked to sign consent forms for a medical exam--a procedure followed by doctors before examining sexual assault victims--on the basis that they were "suspected gays."

"We can't let this stand," Gitari added. "I am very optimistic that the court of appeal will embarrass this judge and overturn this decision."

Gitari says NGLHRC will appeal the ruling, and he's hopeful it will be overturned, posting the following on his Facebook page:

We are pained and devastated by this judgement. It sets a dangerous precedent that if you are suspected to be gay in Kenya, you can be forced to anal examination to establish if you had anal sex then be prosecuted to a 14 year jail term. It is a betrayal of our constitutional charter. It is a waste of our tax resources by police and doctors. We have immediately lodged a memorandum of appeal . My head is spinning. To the Court of Appeal we go.

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