Police in Sri Lanka are employing inhuman ways to confirm whether a man has engaged in gay sex, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Sri Lanka, an island nation of 21 million people, criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and “gross indecency between persons.”
The law emanates from Sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code, which the British passed in 1883 during its colonial rule.
If convicted, offenders may face up to 10 years in prison and pay an ordered amount in fines.
When searching for evidence, Sri Lankan police allegedly whip suspects with wires before performing anal probes, using either their fingers or some other tools.
A lawyer who defended six suspects in the last 12 months revealed the questionable practice, noting that prosecutors submitted reports of such anal exams in court.
Police say that the shape of the anus, as well as the “tone” of the anal sphincter, will determine whether or not suspects had engaged in receptive anal sex — an outdated theory medical authorities have dismissed.
Forced anal exams, according to the World Health Organization
, qualify as a form of violence and torture, and to make matters worse, three of the six suspects were also forced to undergo HIV tests without their consent.
“No one should be arrested, let alone subjected to torture and sexual violence, because of their perceived sexual orientation,” said
Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBTQ rights director at HRW.
“Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry should immediately bar judicial medical officers from conducting forced anal examinations, which flagrantly violate medical ethics as well as basic rights.”
Those who conducted the anal probes are qualified medical doctors employed by Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry, HRW noted.
In addition to the six cases, a transgender man was forced to undergo a “virginity test” in 2019, which required an officer to insert two fingers inside his vagina.
“The recent evidence of violence and harassment against the LGBTIQ community by law enforcement here is gravely concerning,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, executive director of Equal Ground, an LGBTQ nonprofit based in Colombo.
“Sri Lanka must respect its commitment to the UN to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people, including by ending arbitrary arrests and by banning torture and other mistreatment by the authorities.”
Aside from gay sex, Sri Lanka also prohibits LGBTQ people from serving in the military, donating blood and adopting children. Conversion therapy remains legal in the country.
Feature Image (Representation Only) via Getty