BREAKING: Kenya Medical Association Issues Statement on Forced Examinations

By September 28, 2017Kenya, News

Breaking statement from the Kenya Medical Association: A groundbreaking victory for Kenyan activists.

“This past weekend something truly historic happened. As you are aware, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) has mounted a massive campaign towards ending Forced Anal Examinations in Kenya, complementing our litigation work on the same. After two years of engagement with partners—specifically on forced anal examinations and STI testing in the collection of criminal evidence—the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) issued a statement in support of our fight.

This move comes after internal consultations between the NGLHRC and members of the KMA who have voiced their support for our campaign. 

The KMA is the premier Association working to improve the welfare of doctors in the country as well as advocating for quality healthcare for all Kenyans. It currently has close to 3000 members.

Following a Governing Council Meeting held on September 23rd, 2017 at which the NGLHRC’s concerns surrounding the complicity of medical professionals in forced medical examinations were raised, the KMA Governing Council issued a press statement resolving, among other things:

  • To condemn and discourage any form of forced examination of clients, even in the guise of discovering crimes, and to advise practitioners to always conduct consenting procedures for ALL clients they examine.
  • To advise practitioners to ALWAYS adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in their interactions with all clients under all circumstances, including those under police custody.
  • To call on the National Government to ensure that health workers operate in safe and secure environments, free of intimidation or duress, including from officers in government or the security forces.
  • Through our Reproductive Health Committee, to organize a forum to address the health needs and rights of members of the LGBTIQ community.

Read the full press statement here.

This is a first for Kenya, and proof that our work is bearing fruit!

NGLHRC is encouraged by this progressive statement as we work to end the use of forced anal examinations, which have been shown to be discriminatory and bear no scientific basis as to their findings. In fact, such exams have been disproven within the medical community as a means to ascertain whether individuals have engaged in anal sex. As Dr. Bichanga Osiemo, a medical professional working with Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) and a member of the KMA Standing Committee on Human Rights notes, “the lack of standardization of the practice [examinations are conducted using various methods and at the discretion of practitioners] means the practice is not derived from knowledge gained in medical school but instead, it is something cultured. Therefore, there is no established basis on which practitioners form their conclusions.”

The support of medical doctors in ending the practice is crucial as evidenced in countries like Tunisia where a ban on forced anal examinations  to prove homosexuality was recently issued, in part due to strong opposition from the medical community.

We, the NGLHRC team, support medical doctors in Kenya who are standing up for the rights of the LGBTIQ community to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Sign the petition against forced anal examinations.”

Pan Africa ILGA congratulates the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Kenya Medical Association and Kenyan activists in this groundbreaking victory and join them in the hope that this win will spread throughout the continent.

Litigation Update:

NGLHRC’s case appealing the use of forced anal examinations, Petition 51 of 2015: Freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 25 of the Constitution of Kenya  is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, October 11th, 2017.

The case regards the forced anal examinations and STI testing of two men in Kwale county in 2015. In June 2016, the High Court of Mombasa sided with law enforcement that this was a legitimate means of gathering evidence of consensual same sex. NGLHRC is appealing this discriminatory ruling.”