Uzbekistan: Forced anal tests in homosexuality prosecution

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(Washington, DC) – Authorities in Uzbekistan subjected at least six men to forced anal exams between 2017 and 2021 in order to prosecute them for consensual same-sex relationships, nine human rights groups said today. Forced anal exams are a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that can amount to torture. Organizations — Council for Global Equality, Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity, Freedom Now, Human Dignity Trust, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe, International Partnership for Human Rights and Lesbian and The Gay Federation of Germany (LSVD) urged President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to immediately ban these exams.

In the most recent case, on orders from Home Affairs officials, doctors subjected two men to forced anal exams in early 2021. A court in Tashkent sentenced the two men to two years of house arrest, in party based on medical reports claiming to find evidence. of homosexual conduct. The men, who lived together before the arrest, were sentenced to serve their sentences in towns 500 kilometers away and banned from using the Internet.

“Forced anal exams, and their use to obtain convictions for consensual homosexual conduct, is a horrendous violation of fundamental rights that undermines Uzbekistan’s efforts to make its poor human rights record a thing of the past,” said Neela Ghoshal, LGBT rights associate. director at Human Rights Watch. “The Uzbek government has expressed its intention to carry out human rights reforms, but continues to use a discredited and abusive process that amounts to torture. “

The Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM) and the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) documented at least four other cases between 2017 and 2020 in which men were subjected to forced anal exams, indicating a worrying trend, the organizations said. One of the victims was sentenced to a year and a half of house arrest in 2020, while another was sentenced to jail.

Forced anal exams, allegedly performed to find “evidence” of homosexual behavior, often involve doctors or other medical staff inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into the woman’s anus. accused without his consent, in order to determine whether the person has engaged in receptive anal intercourse. The World Health Organization has denounced the exams as a form of violence and torture.

The World Medical Association has called on medical professionals to stop performing examinations, saying they are “deeply disturbed by the complicity of medical personnel in these involuntary and unscientific examinations, including the preparation of medical reports that are used in trials to convict transgender men and women of consensual homosexual conduct.

The verdict against the two men confirms that they were both subjected to forced anal exams while in detention under article 120 of the penal code, which punishes consensual homosexual relations between men, a “crime” inherited from the past Soviet Union of Uzbekistan, with up to three years in prison. The decision was based in part on a report from a medical examiner suggesting that “superficial bruises and tears”, “radial bends” that are “slightly smooth” and a “slightly weakened” anal sphincter tone were likely to be causes. evidence of anal sex. The court decision seems to be based on false theories popularized by a French medical text of 1857 on how to identify a “habitual pederast” by an anal examination.

There is a clear medical consensus that such archaic theories have no scientific basis. The Group of Independent Forensic Experts (IFEG), made up of forensic scientists from around the world, condemned forced anal exams, saying “the exam has no value in detecting abnormalities in sphincter tone. anal that can be reliably attributed to consensual anal intercourse. “

Men in Uzbekistan who engage in consensual homosexual sex risk arbitrary detention, prosecution and imprisonment as well as homophobia, threats and extortion. The Uzbek government admitted in April, in response to a media investigation, that more than 40 men had been convicted under the law between 2016 and 2020.

Uzbek authorities headed by the Attorney General’s Office recently drafted a new penal code, but did not propose to repeal Article 120. Instead, the ban on same-sex relations appears in the draft under the article 154, in a section of the code relating to “crimes against morals and the family.

Uzbekistan’s ban on same-sex relationships violates fundamental rights protected by international law, such as privacy and bodily autonomy, and is discriminatory. Only two states that were part of the former Soviet Union, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships. Turkmenistan, which also performed forced anal exams in at least one case documented by Human Rights Watch, told the UN Human Rights Committee in 2020 it will reconsider its law punishing consensual sexual behavior between men with a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Uzbekistan’s use of forced anal exams as evidence in consensual homosexual conduct prosecutions adds a sense of urgency to the call to decriminalize consensual homosexual conduct, human rights organizations have said.

“Uzbekistan should respect its international human rights obligations by immediately banning forced anal examinations, which the president can do with the stroke of a pen,” said Yuri Yoursky, human rights and legal coordinator at the Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity. “The government should follow through by removing archaic provisions from the penal code against consensual sex, which violate human rights on the face of it and contribute to other violations such as forced anal exams. “


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