A Kenyan court has ruled that the forced anal examination of men suspected of being gay is unlawful, after rights groups argued the tests are a form of torture.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, as in most African countries. Gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Until this ruling, Kenya was one of at least eight countries worldwide where men suspected of being gay are subjected to forced anal testing to see how slackened their anal passage is. The others – according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) – are Cameroon, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia.
The recent decision by the Court of Appeal overturns a previous ruling from 2016 on the legality of such examinations, and whether they violate an individual’s privacy.
HRW says the “cruel, inhuman and humiliating” process usually involves medical personnel “inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into the anus of the accused. In other cases, men are ordered to strip naked and bend over or lie down with their feet in stirrups while doctors “visually” examine their anal regions”.
Following the ruling, a lawyer for Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: “The humiliation and pain caused by these useless anal examinations will follow our clients for the rest of their lives.”
LGBTQ campaigners hope the ruling will influence another court case under way to decriminalise gay sex.