Banned anal exam ‘akin to torture’ still being used by police in Lebanon to determine if people are gay

Lebanon prosecutes gay people under legislation banning ‘sexual relations that contradict the laws of nature’

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Wednesday 16 July 2014 16:52
A protester waves a gay pride flag as others hold banners during an anti-homophobia rally in Beirut on April 30, 2013
A protester waves a gay pride flag as others hold banners during an anti-homophobia rally in Beirut on April 30, 2013

Men suspected by authorities of being homosexual are still being anally “tested” in Lebanon despite a ban on the practice issued by health officials, it has been reported.

Doctors from the Lebanese Order of Physicians have described the method of determining whether or not a man is gay as useless and akin to “torture”.

The test involves forcefully inserting an egg-shaped metal object into the rectum, which a 2012 Human Rights Watch report said “constitutes degrading and humiliating treatment” in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the Lebanese Daily Star, however, a forensic doctor was hired in January by members of the police’s “Moral Protection Bureau” to determine the sexuality of five Lebanese and Syrian men accused of being gay.

Homosexuality remains a criminal offence in Lebanon, with charges brought under the Article 534 of the country’s legal code that prohibits sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature”.

Nizar Saghieh, a lawyer and editor of the Lebanese rights organisation and publication Legal Agenda, told the Daily Star that the men had not committed any other crime.

“We are asking the Order of Physicians to sue him [the doctor] for professional misconduct,” Saghieh told the newspaper.

“There are many sanctions available, so it is up to the people who are hearing this case to decide on what is adequate.”

It is thought to be the first incidence of the banned test being used since a well-publicised case involving 35 men detained in a raid on an adult cinema in Burj Hammoud in July 2012.

One month later the order was issued banning doctors from conducting the exam, which declared: “Such techniques do not give the desired result and constitute a gross violation of the rights of persons who are subject to it without their consent. ... The practice is humiliating and is torture in violation of the [UN] Convention Against Torture.”

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