Last week, Lebanon made headlines after a gay porn theater was raided by police and 36 men were arrested on suspicion of being gay. The men were forced to submit to a pseudo-scientific anal exam to ascertain their sexuality, a rather medeival way to understand bodies, relationships and sexual identity. Two men were actually charged with homosexuality after they were forced to pay for their own anal exams in the wake of the police raid.
The ensuing scandal from the theater raid caused health officials to reconsider their stance on the issue. The Daily Star reports that the Order of Physicians issued a circular on Tuesday which told doctors they would face disciplinary measures if they were caught employing the anal exam. The circular points out the complete inhumanity and inapplicability of the cruel test, which should not be used in the medical profession, stating:
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. Therefore, we ask you to avoid carrying out any similar action under penalty of disciplinary prosecution.
Lebanon is currently intolerant of gay and lesbian relationships, both on the social and legal platforms. Article 534 expressly condemns such relationships and legally allows for the anal testing of suspects in order to charge them with homosexuality. Although the medical circular offers a slight improvement in the treatment of men who are arrested for homosexuality, it also does not completely ban the practice. The Justice Ministry of Lebanon has yet to ban the practice outright. Officials only stated that prosecutors must now ask for permission before undertaking the exam.
Refusal to submit to the test may put men arrested on these charges in a difficult position. In a classic witch-hunt style attack, prosecutors could charge men with homosexual acts if they refuse to submit to the inhumane treatment.
The recent medical ban of the anal exam has probably only been in discussions this week because of the worldwide response to the raid of the theater and the treatment of three dozen men. It is highly likely that many prosecutors will continue to use the same techniques to persecute gay men as they have for many years past. All of the 36 men who were arrested in late July could still face serious charges because being gay is often aligned with immorality in Lebanon.
Photo Credit: Norbert Kaiser