Kenya court nixes forced anal exams

In a significant win for human rights in Kenya, the Court of Appeal ruled today that the use of forced anal examinations is unlawful. Such exams have been used in many nations in a mistaken belief that the intrusive tests can determine whether a man is homosexual.

Logo of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission of Kenya
New logo of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission of Kenya

“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,” said Njeri Gateru, head of legal affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), Kenya’s non-governmental LGBTI legal advocacy organization.

In September 2017, the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), which is the leading professional body working to improve the welfare of doctors and advocating for quality healthcare for all Kenyans, released a statement condemning forced examinations.

The NGLHRC today issued this press release:

Kenya Appeal Court Moves to End Forced Examinations of Men Suspected of Being Gay

NAIROBI — In a significant win for human rights in Kenya, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the use of forced anal examinations by the state is unlawful.

On Thursday 22nd March 2018, a three-judge bench handed down a ruling in a case appealing the state’s cruel and degrading treatment of two Kenyan men while under arrest in 2015. The men were arrested in Kwale county on suspicion that they were gay. They were subjected to forced anal examinations and HIV testing under a magistrate’s order to determine if they had engaged in consensual sexual acts in private.

The violating examinations, which include being made to lie with legs up in a humiliating position and having instruments forced into your rectum, are widely accepted to have no medical merit.

Rights organisation, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), which is representing the two men in the case, has long argued that the tests are a violation of rights to privacy and dignity and amount to torture.

Njeri Gateru, head of legal affairs for the NGLHRC Kenyan LGBTI rights advocacy group. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)
Njeri Gateru, head of legal affairs for the NGLHRC Kenyan LGBTI rights advocacy group. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Head of Legal Affairs at NGLHRC, Njeri Gateru, 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.
The humiliation and pain caused by these useless anal examinations will follow our clients for the rest of their lives. However, we are emboldened to see our constitution at work, ensuring that all Kenyans have the right to dignity.”

NGLHRC, which provides free legal assistance to LGBT individuals in Kenya, reports increasing use of threats of forced anal examinations by police officers in the last two years against men suspected of being gay.

Kenya Medical Association logo
Kenya Medical Association logo

In September 2017, The Kenya Medical Association (KMA), which is the leading professional body working to improve the welfare of doctors and advocating for quality healthcare for all Kenyans, released a statement condemning forced examinations. The KMA resolved to:

“Condemn and discourage any form of forced examination of clients, even in the guise of discovering crimes.”

In the accompanying press release it further advised medical practitioners to:

“ALWAYS adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in their actions with all clients under all circumstances, including those under police custody.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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