Lebanese police still using banned exams to “test” if men are gay

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Although Lebanon’s Order of Physicians has banned the use of anal examinations on men suspected to be gay, according to a new report police are still using the humiliating procedure.

The exam, which involves forcing a metal egg-shaped object into the rectum, caused significant outrage in July 2012 when it was used on thirty-five men who had been arrested at an adult cinema. Critics have derided the test as not only useless, but a kind of torture. The Lebanese LGBTI rights group Helem compared them to rape.

The uproar led to Lebanon’s Order of Physicians banning the examinations in August of 2012, and that September, the country’s Justice Minister spoke out against it. However, the Beirut-based Legal Agenda has reported that it knows of five new cases in which it was used in 2014 alone.

According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, Legal Agenda’s report found that the judicial police force in Lebanon, the “Moral Protection Bureau,” had employed a forensic doctor “to determine the sexuality of five Lebanese and Syrian men accused of being gay, which remains a criminal offense in Lebanon.”

The Star also reported that when the Order of Physicians banned doctors from the practice, they 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 [United Nations] Convention Against Torture.”

The editor of Legal Agenda, Nizar Saghieh, told the Star, “We are asking the Order of Physicians to sue him for professional misconduct. There are many sanctions available, so it is up to the people who are hearing this case to decide on what is adequate.”

Under Lebanon’s Article 534, sexual acts which “contradict the laws of nature” are punishable by up to a year in prison—but two cases in recent years have challenged that. According to the Economist, in March 2014 “judge decreed that sex between a transgender individual, previously a man, and another man could not be perceived as unnatural. Activists saw the case as a double win, because it was the first ruling on a transgender individual.” The judge cited “a similar case from 2009, which ruled that homosexuality cannot be against human nature since man ‘is part of nature.’”

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