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HRW: Lebanon must cease intrusive physical examinations used to prosecute gay men

Lebanon should stop police from using anal examinations to determine suspects' sexual behavior, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [press release] Friday. The announcement came on the heels of a recent arrest of 36 men at a gay cinema in July, which saw all the suspects subjected to anal examinations by forensics doctors to determine if they were guilty of violating Article 534 [UNHCR backgrounder] of the Lebanese penal code, which criminalizes "sexual relations against nature" and is used to prosecute homosexuality. According to Rasha Moumneh, a Middle East and North Africa researcher at HRW:

Forensic anal examinations of men suspected of homosexual contact, conducted in detention, constitute degrading and humiliating treatment. These "tests of shame," as local activists call them, should stop immediately—the state has no business punishing and degrading its citizens for consensual sexual conduct.
Helem [advocacy website, in Arabic], Lebanon's most prominent LGBT rights group, reported in June that that even when the examinations produce no evidence, it does not vindicate the suspect [press release], as doctors report the suspect to the Attorney General regardless.

Discrimination against LGBT-citizens remains widespread in many parts of the world, with several countries criminalizing homosexual conduct. Earlier in the month, the UN voiced its concern over Liberia drafting a law criminalizing homosexuality [JURIST report]. In June Uganda [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] announced [JURIST report] that it will ban at least 38 non-governmental organizations that are accused of promoting gay rights and recruiting children to homosexuality. In February Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] had condemned [JURIST report] the shut down of an LGBT workshop by advocacy group Freedom and Roam, declaring it illegal and trying to arrest the leader. That same month Uganda had reintroduced [JURIST report] legislation that would make certain homosexual activities punishable by death. In contrast Malawi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] President Joyce Banda in May announced a proposal [JURIST report] to decriminalize homosexual acts. In January UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] said [JURIST report] in a statement to the African Union Summit that Africa must honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] by ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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