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Tunisian Doctors Call for an End to Forced Anal Exams on Suspected Gay Men

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The National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia called for an end to the country’s practice of conducting forced anal and genital exams on men suspected of homosexuality.

On April 3, the Council issued a statement saying that the exams are not medically justified, and that they harm the dignity as well as the physical and mental integrity of the person being examined.

The statement urges medical professionals to cease this practice in the spirit of “respect for the law and ethical obligations.”

LGBTQ rights activists have hailed the Council’s statement as a positive step for queer rights in Tunisia.

“Tunisian doctors have taken a courageous step in opposing the use of these torturous exams,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “To ensure that forced anal testing in Tunisia ends once and for all, police should stop ordering the exams, and courts should refuse to admit the results into evidence.”

In Tunisia, where being gay is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, criminal investigators perform anal and genital exams on men suspected of homosexual activity. The exams are painful, invasive and humiliating. They’re also ineffective — they don’t provide real proof of homosexuality. (They don’t seem to know that tops exist.)

And even when an exam doesn’t turn up evidence of homosexuality, it doesn’t matter. In March, a court in Tunisia sentenced two men to 8 months’ imprisonment for being gay even after an anal exam found no proof.

But the real purpose of the exam isn’t even to find evidence of homosexuality. It’s to punish anybody with LGBTQ sympathies.

Suspects can technically refuse to undergo an exam, but that refusal can be taken as a sign of guilt and evidence of homosexuality.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has condemned the practice of forced anal exams to prove homosexuality. Despite this, the exams still occur (with varying frequency) in Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Turkmenistan, Uganda and Zambia.

 

(Header image via Dennis Jarvis)