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A Human Rights Watch and EQUAL GROUND report revealed that people suspected of “homosexual conduct” in Sri Lanka are being subjected by the authorities to physical torture and forced physical examinations.

This was according to a lawyer who was one of the counsels who represented six defendants in the past year accused of such “male homosexual conduct.” 

The aforementioned lawyer told Human Rights Watch and EQUAL GROUND that six victims have been subjected to anal exams to find “evidence of past anal penetration.” One transgender man on the other hand, was forced by the police in 2019 to undergo “virginity test.” The test, done by a judicial medical officer, entailed inserting two fingers inside the man’s vagina.

And not only the accused have been whipped with wires, they also underwent HIV tests without their consent—the results, says the source, were “made public in court.”

Human Rights Watch and EQUAL GROUND have called for the practice to come to an end, describing it as a “form of sexual violence as well as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can rise to torture.”   

Neela Ghoshal, associate LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement:

“No one should be arrested, let alone subjected to torture and sexual violence, because of their perceived sexual orientation.” She added, “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.”

The report further revealed that this is not the first time LGBT people in Sri Lanka suffered violence in the hands of their arresting officers.  Sixteen out of the 61 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people interviewed by Human Rights Watch for their report in 2016 experienced “physical or sexual assault, including rape, by the police.”

In Sri Lanka, same-sex relations between consenting adults is illegal and carry a 10-year minimum prison sentence (20 years maximum) with a fine plus compensation to “whom the offence was committed for injuries caused to such person.” You can read Human Rights Watch’s and EQUAL GROUND’s report in full here.

The country uses sections 365 and 365A of their current Penal Code to criminalize gay sex. Reportedly enacted in 1886, sections 365 and 365A were “relics of Colonial rule” prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal.” Read more about this law in Sri Lanka here.

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