Tunisia Ends Policy Of Forced Anal Examinations For Suspected Homosexuals

"I felt like I didn’t have any respect. I felt like they were violating me."

Tunisia’s top medical council has banned forced medical examinations for signs of homosexuality, a human rights abuse that’s plagued the country for at least decade.

Same-sex activity is prohibited in the north African country, where doctors will, at the request of authorities, perform anal “tests” on suspected male homosexuals. But now the National Council of the Medical Order has ordered physicians must tell people they can refuse the exams.

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“Tunisian doctors have taken a courageous step in opposing the use of these torturous exams,” said Human Rights Watch’s Neela Ghoshal. “To ensure that forced anal testing in Tunisia ends once and for all, police should stop ordering the exams, and courts should refuse to admit the results into evidence.”

Human rights activists have decried the tests as torture—one victim described his “examination” to Human Rights Watch in 2015 as “violating.”

I took my pants off and had to get on the table. He entered one finger inside my anus, with cream on it. He put his finger in and was looking. While putting his finger in, he said, ‘Are you ok now’, I said, ‘No I’m not okay.’ It was painful.

Then he put in a tube. It was to see if there was sperm. He pushed the tube far inside. It was about the length of a finger. It felt painful. I felt like I was an animal, because I felt like I didn’t have any respect. I felt like they were violating me.

British gay activist Peter Tatchell said the ruling doesn’t go far enough, as some men will still feel pressure to give consent. He added that the tests themselves are unreliable and unethical.

“They are rightly condemned by medical authorities worldwide,” said Tatchell.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.