Kenya:Court Outlaws Anal Exams in Landmark Victory for Gay Rights

Photo: Daily Nation
A Kenyan court has ruled that the forced anal examination of men suspected of being gay is unlawful (file photo)

Rights groups have hailed the ruling as a "tremendous step" for gay rights in the conservative country. Kenya has been listed by LGBTQ rights groups has a country that sponsors homophobia through its laws and policies.

Kenya's Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled that the use of forced anal exams used to determine whether homosexual men engaged in sex is illegal.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) took the case to court after two men were arrested in 2015 on suspicion of having sex.

According to the men, authorities forced them to undergo anal examinations by hospital staff and security personnel. They also said authorities forced them to submit to HIV tests.

'Tremendous step'

The NGLHRC argued the tests violated the men's constitutional rights. A Kenyan court in 2016 ruled that such tests were constitutional and, as such, within the scope of use for authorities. Thursday's ruling overturned that decision.

"The ruling is a tremendous step not only in upholding the dignity of homosexuals who'd been subjected to the indignities of anal examinations but also to the rule of law in Kenya," said Eric Gitari, who heads the NGLHRC.

State-sponsored homophobia

In Kenya, same-sex sexual activity is outlawed and punishable by 14 years in jail. Before Thursday's ruling, Kenya was one of eight countries that allowed forced anal exams.

The others are Cameroon, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda and Zambia, according to Human Rights Watch.

"The violating examinations, which include being made to lie with legs up in a humiliating position and having instruments forced into your rectum, are widely accepted to have no medical merit," said NGLHRC.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has listed Kenya in its list of countries that sponsor homophobia through its national laws and policy. The NGLHRC has also challenged Kenya's laws targeting homosexuality.

Countries that have legalized same-sex marriage

2001, The Netherlands

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to permit same-sex marriages after the Dutch parliament voted for legalization in 2000. The mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, wedded the first four same-sex couples at midnight on April 1, 2001 when the legislation came into effect. The new law also allowed same-sex couples to adopt children.

2003, Belgium

The Netherlands' neighbor, Belgium, followed the Dutch lead and legalized same-sex marriage two years later. The law gave same-sex partners many of the rights of their heterosexual counterparts. But unlike the Dutch, the Belgians did not initially allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The Belgian parliament passed a bill granting them that right three years later.

2010, Argentina

Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriages when its Senate voted 33 to 27 in favor of it in July 2010. Argentina thereby became the tenth country in the world to permit gay and lesbian marriages. The South American country was not the only one to do so in 2010. Earlier in the year, Portugal and Iceland also passed same-sex marriage legislation.

2012, Denmark

Denmark's parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization in June 2012. The small Scandinavian country had made headlines before when it was the first country in the world to recognize civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples in 1989. Same-sex couples had also enjoyed the right to adopt children since 2009.

2013, New Zealand

New Zealand became the 15th country worldwide and the first Asia-Pacific country to allow gay and lesbian marriages in 2013. The first couples were married on August 19. Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanik were among them when they exchanged vows on board an Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Auckland. France legalized same-sex marriage the same year.

2015, Ireland

Ireland made headlines in May 2015 when it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through a referendum. Thousands of people celebrated in the streets of Dublin as the results came in showing almost two-thirds of voters opting for the measure.

Countries that have legalized same-sex marriage

2015, USA

The White House was alight in the colors of the rainbow flag on June 26, 2015. Earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the constitution guaranteed marriage equality, a verdict that paved the way for same-sex couples to be married across the country. The decision came 12 years after the Supreme Court ruled that laws criminalizing gay sex were unconstitutional.

2017, Germany

Germany became the fifteenth European country to legalize gay and lesbian marriages in June 30, 2017. The bill passed by 393 to 226 in the Bundestag, with four abstentions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the bill, but paved the way for its passage when she said her party would be allowed to vote freely on the measure only days before the vote took place.

2017 – 2018, Australia

Following a postal survey which showed the majority of Australians were in favor of same-sex marriage, the country's parliament passed a law to legalize it in December 2017. As couples in Australia have to give authorities one month's notice of their nuptials, many of the first weddings took place just after midnight on January 9, 2018 – including that of Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan, pictured.

Author: Alexander Pearson

(AP, Reuters)