03 May 2016
IRCT joins the IFEG in condemning forced anal examinations as violations of the ban on torture and ill-treatment

Today, the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) has published an expert statement strongly condemning the practice of anal examinations in cases of alleged homosexual activity. The statement categorically asserts that forcibly conducted anal examinations are medically and scientifically worthless in establishing whether consensual anal intercourse has occurred and that the practice constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture.

IFEG member, Dr. Vincent Iacopino, Medical Director, Physicians for Human Rights explains that “Anal examinations to “detect homosexuality” have no scientific value, are unethical, and constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture. Sexual identity and orientation is not a disease or a crime and health professionals have no business diagnosing it or aiding State officials in policing and punishing people on the basis of their sexuality".

The IRCT joins the IFEG in condemning this cruel practice as unethical and a clear violation of the UN Convention against Torture. It is a practice that several IRCT members are confronted with in their daily work and the IRCT believes it an issue that has been underexposed and ill understood around the globe.

Anal examinations are a rectal examination in which medical personnel examine the anus of a person suspected of being a homosexual using a gloved and lubricated finger and sometimes inserting tubes of different sizes into the anus. The examinations claim to be able to prove a person is a homosexual by correlating the appearance of the anus with signs of anal intercourse.

Despite the fact that anal examinations are a flagrant violation of international human rights, including the right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment, the practice is still widely used in many countries that criminalise or ban consensual homosexual relations. They are often conducted in situations of widespread discrimination and persecution against LGBTI persons, in order to “prove” that they are homosexuals.

However, according to the IFEG, “Forcibly conducted anal examinations have no medical or scientific value in determining whether consensual anal intercourse has taken place; these examinations are inherently discriminatory and, in almost all instances, result in significant physical and mental pain and suffering”.

The expert statement states that these examinations can have detrimental physical and psychological effects on the individual, including significant physical pain and psychological suffering. Many victims are scarred by a profound sense of shame, guilt and self-disgust, which can result in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts and attempts. According to the IFEG, forcibly conducted anal examinations that involve anal penetration should be considered, “a form of sexual assault and rape”.

Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy at the IRCT says, “We welcome this important statement by the IFEG, which highlights the horrific practice of anal examinations in cases of alleged homosexual relations. These practices are worthless, violate human dignity and clearly violate the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment.

“It is crucial that all States practicing this abandon it immediately, investigate all allegations and ensure the full rehabilitation of victims. It is essential that medical professionals all over the world join the IFEG experts in rejecting this practice and compel their colleagues to do the same”.

The IFEG is an international body of 35 preeminent independent forensic specialists from 18 countries, who are recognised world experts in evaluation of the physical and psychological evidence of ill-treatment and torture.

To read the full statement please click here.

For inquiries, please contact Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy, IRCT at akj@irct.org

“Healthcare professionals have a very important role to play in creating a world without torture as those who help mitigate the physical and psychological pain faced by victims of torture.” - Dr. Yadira Narvaez

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