Kenyan LGBTI activists (Pic: NGLHRC)
Two men are suing the Kenyan government after they were forced to undergo humiliating anal exams and HIV tests in an attempt by police to prove that they are gay.
According to Kenya’s The Star, the men were arrested in Msambweni on suspicion of having engaged in gay sex.
They were held for four days during which they were examined and tested against their will at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.
Through the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), the men have now sued the Chief Magistrate of Kwale Law Courts, the Divisional Criminal Investigation Officer and the Msambweni Police Station.
In a statement, NGLHRC Executive Director Eric Gitari said that, “the forced blood testing and anal testing sought to establish whether the two male adults might have engaged in consensual adult carnal knowledge against the order of nature at the privacy of their residences in Ukunda.”
The men were allegedly “forced to strip naked, lie facing upwards, lift legs into the air and cough while doctors inserted metallic objects up their rectum.”
“The manner in which the procedures took place was non-consensual, degrading and therefore unconstitutional and a violation of their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” said Gitari.
The NGLHRC wants the courts to declare that forced medical and anal tests are unconstitutional, violate human dignity and have a “disparate impact on sexual minorities.”
Gay sex is illegal in Kenya, with penalties of between five to 14 years’ imprisonment. It is not clear if the men were ultimately prosecuted by the authorities.
Forced anal exams are widely used in a number of African and Middle-East countries in the criminalisation of homosexuality.
They have, however, been deemed to be medically inconclusive in terms of indicating sexual activity. According to Human Rights Watch, they are “grossly intrusive, invasive, and abusive, violating the individual’s rights to integrity, dignity, and privacy.”
These tests further constitute “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” that may amount to torture, violating the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
They are also contrary to medical ethics, according to the World Medical Association and the UN Principles of Medical Ethics.