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Nizar Saghieh
Activists denounce Lebanon’s humiliating treatment of gays

in LEBANON, 29/06/2012

Human rights activists have denounced Lebanon’s humiliating treatment of gay men, and the ‘medical examinations’ that doctors believe can determine sexual orientation. Men suspected of being gay are taken to a doctor and asked to undress, and then lean over or crouch, submitting to a medical examination of their anus.

The doctors then checks for traces of sperm, and takes a picture to study the shape of the hole.

While it is illegal to be gay in Lebanon, the Middle Eastern country was considered to be more tolerant than its neighbors.

French newspaper Le Monde reported Nizar Saghieh, lawyer, activist, and founder of Al-Moufakkira al-kanouniya (Legal Agenda), organized a conference to denounce the ‘examinations of shame’.

Saghieh explained to the paper it began when three men were arrested near the home of a Lebanese political leader, but police interrogation showed they were not spies, plotters or activists. But as one of the men was considered effeminate, the men were taken to another police station where they were forced to submit to anal exams to determine whether they were homosexual.

Saghieh said: ‘These young men hadn’t done anything wrong, which shows how absurd this method is.’

He added the goal of the examinations was not only to humiliate, but to intimidate.

Artist and activist Alexandre Paulikevitch said: ‘There’s something perverse, some sort of sick pleasure, in submitting alleged homosexuals to such examinations.’

According to Human Rights Watch, which has denounced similar abuses in Egypt after mass arrests in a gay club in 2001, these anal exams are akin to ‘acts of torture.’

Saghieh said he will continue to fight against the practice. He spoke out at a conference held last night (22 June) where he denounced similar tests which doctors believe can determine whether a woman is a virgin or a prostitute. 

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