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Lebanon medical chiefs ban gay anal probe tests

The Lebanese Medical Association act after 36 men get anal probes and ban discredited 'torture' tests but public prosectuor wants to keep them
Helem's poster campaign against anal probe and vaginal exams
Image by Helem

Lebanese medical chiefs have ordered doctors to stop carrying out 'anal probe' tests to find out if men are gay but the country's public prosecutor has said the tests should continue.

It follows a case revealed by Gay Star News where 36 men were subjected to the tests - and were even forced to pay for them - after being arrested in a police raid on a porn cinema where men meet for gay sex.

The tests involve examining someone's anus to see if it has been penetrated but they are discredited as inaccurate and a form of torture.

Yesterday (7 August) the Lebanese Medical Association issued a circular memo demanding that doctors cease to conduct the anal probes. They have warned any doctor who attempts to conduct them will face disciplinary action.

Speaking with the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Dr Abu Sharaf, the head of the Lebanese Medical Association stated the procedure is ineffective, constituting a gross violation of human rights, is humiliating, forced upon people without their consent, and in breach of the international convention against torture.

The Lebanese minister of justice previously (9 of July) ordered these tests stopped unless they are absolutely necessary.

But the public prosecutor, Judge Saeed Mirza has argued for the tests to continue.

He has stated that if police need ‘proof’ of homosexuality only the suspect can ‘consent to undergo the exam.’ However, if the detainee refuses to give his consent it can be used as ‘evidence’ against them.

Lebanese LGBT advocacy organization Helem will protest this Saturday morning (11 August) in front of the Lebanese ministry of justice, nearby Judge Mirza’s office demanding cancellation of the anal probe and vaginal exams (used to test for virginity).

Helem announced that the next step will be to lobby the Lebanese government and push for legal reform by repealing article 534 that prohibits having sexual relations ‘contradicting the laws of nature’. This is the law used against homosexuality, which is punishable by up to a year in prison.

The 36 men who were arrested in the porn cinema have now been freed.

But three of the men who have tested ‘positive’ under the anal probe exams for homosexuality may be prosecuted for violation of article 534.

Two have accepted legal representation from Helem, while the other preferred his own lawyer.

The cinema owner will be prosecuted for screening immoral films (porn), and it is unclear at this point if he is still under arrest or freed on bail.

The dates and charges for the court proceedings have not yet been announced, and are under the discretion of the public prosecutor Judge Mirza.

Meanwhile Lebanese media has overwhelmingly criticised the whole arrests, use of anal probe exams and article 534.

Octavia Nasser, ex CNN presenter and widely respected American Lebanese journalist wrote an impassioned article for LGBT rights in the Lebanese daily A-Nahar, saying that LGBT people 'exist and will continue to exist in every home, every neighborhood and every city'.

Nasser said: 'They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our cousins, our neighbors; they are even our mothers and fathers and their parents and grandparents before them.

‘Who are we to judge what a person’s sexual orientation is, or even worse, who are we to dictate how people should behave in the privacy of their own home or personal space?

'What are the morality credentials of those who ordered the raid on a movie theater in Lebanon and those who arrested the theaters patrons and forced them into the most invasive and insulting probes, violently fondling their private parts to “scientifically” determine whether or not they’re gay?’

In an unprecedented show of support all the major Lebanese TV channels have slammed the use of anal probe tests and have come out publicly for gay rights.

LBC and Aljadeed TV channels have called upon MTV to publicly apologize for the homophobic comments of Joe Maalouf on his Enta Hor program, which ran a exposé on porn cinemas where gay people meet for sex, which appeared to spark the arrests.

MTV meanwhile has denied it was responsible for the arrest and stated it's against article 534 and supports LGBT rights. In a recent news cast they denied that they ever called gay people perverts and deviants but failed to specifically mention Maalouf’s program. It further alleged that the criticism of its conduct is a conspiracy between Helem and LBC to boost the latter’s TV ratings.

Maalouf has confirmed today that he will take human rights advocate and Helem founder Georges Azzi to court for slander after Azzi outed him as a gay man.

Azzi is executive director for the Arab Foundation For Freedoms And Equality non-governmental organization. He said he is against outing people but was forced to do in order to make after appeals to Maalouf stop his repeated homophobic attacks were ignored.

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