Kenya Just Banned a Homosexuality Test

Suspicion of having gay sex or relationships is illegal in Kenya and punishable by 14 years in jail. As a result, a group of activists and human rights lawyers in Kenya have been challenging this criminal code and fighting laws that punish LGBT people for being in a relationship or having sex.

One of the most prominent organization leading the issue is the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Nairobi, an organization arguing that LGBT communities are being unfairly targeted. In 2016, the commission received 193 reports of violations, mostly cyber-bullying, blackmail, verbal assault, and physical assault. Other forms of violence and discrimination include eviction, employer termination, or “corrective” rape. Most recently, forced anal exams were still carried out in Kenya despite being considered a degrading form of torture and having no medical merit; while straight people who have anal sex are not considered criminals. Forced anal examinations are usually performed by a healthcare provider at the request of law enforcement officials. These examinations are intended to cause emotional and physical pain and offer no potential benefits to the individual. This could also result in serious mental health concerns such as depression or suicide. This forced homosexuality test is not only a violation of medical ethics but a violation of health equity.

It originated when two men were found and arrested by police because they were thought to be gay. During this time, the court ruled against them and had them get the tests. Little is known about the true prevalence of this practice but the fact that it was codified in legal systems is astonishing. This ruling was reversed in Kenya in March 2018. Many are trying to determine if the ruling on forced anal testing could be an indicator for a turning point for LGBT cases. Promoting equality through health is extremely valuable, especially in this instance, and addressing any barriers could improve the overall health around the LGBT community.

To this day at least nine countries, several of which are in Africa, force anal examinations to investigate or punish alleged same-sex behaviors between consenting men or transgender women. A study from 2016 found that Kenya and several other countries use anal examinations as a means of determining a man’s sexuality. Tunisia, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Cameroon, Lebanon, Uganda, and Zambia, and Tanzania and possibly some others that have reported some instances, such as Syria, are included.  Law enforcement officials should never order the examinations since they lack evidentiary value. Doctors should not conduct them and courts should not admit them into evidence.

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Stand up for gun violence prevention with a few actions you can take in the coming week

Dear IH Friends,

Here is a message from our colleagues at APHA and the MCH Gun Violence Prevention Workgroup:

Now is the time to stand up for gun violence prevention (GVP) in our Nation.  Many of you have asked what you can do to promote the public health approach to gun violence prevention. Below are actions to take in the coming week:

1.    Please plan on attending one of over 817 March for Our Lives events worldwide on Saturday, March 24th. Click on this link to register for the March:  March for Our Lives (https://event.marchforourlives.com/event/march-our-lives-events)

Possible Signage for the March for our Lives:

-Gun violence is a public health crisis.

-We need more funding for gun violence prevention research

-Gun violence is a public health issue

2.    Visit the APHA website Gun Violence Page:   Gun Violence. (https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/gun-violence)

3.     Share AJPH Gun Violence Research. (http://ajph.aphapublications.org/topic/gunviolence)

4.    Get active in your communities. Engage at the grassroots level.  Join your local GVP organizations and promote a public health approach to end the gun violence epidemic.

In collaboration,

The APHA Intersectional Council (ISC) and MCH Gun Violence Prevention Workgroups

Happy #InternationalWomensDay!

A message from our section chair, Laura Altobelli


In 1909 and 1917, women organized to demand better wages, equal working conditions, and the right to vote.

In 1975, the United Nations established March 8 for the annual recognition of these struggles.

On this International Women’s Day, the tendency is to think that today celebrates women just for BEING WOMEN — instead of its true meaning….THE GLOBAL STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN.

Today is to commemorate the hard work that has not yet ended, and to celebrate those women (and some men), past, present, and future, who push the boundaries toward empowerment of women and girls and gender equality in all aspects of life.

Today is an annual call to continue the struggle.

In international health and global development work, this is arguably the most important of our callings — to reach the 5th Sustainable Development Goal: to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,’ after which all other SDGs will be easier to reach.

Have a good day and keep up the struggle!

Achieving health equity in global health through workforce diversity

This International Women’s Day we honor the achievements of women leaders working to advance the health and well-being of people all over the world. Their path to success was certainly not easy. It was fraught with numerous challenges; challenges that are not only experienced by those of us working in global health but by women across all industries.

We are considered either too soft and feminine or too bossy and pushy to be seen as competent leaders. Our work culture lacks family-oriented, work-life balance policies which enable us to contribute to our field in significant ways. We lack female mentors to encourage us to grow and push us to overcome any obstacles we encounter in our career. We work for organizations where the people who make the big decisions on what policies and programmatic areas to focus on are men. The struggles we face trying to advance in our careers are reflected in the lack of gender equality in the global health workforce. While women make up 70% of the global health workforce, only 25% of leadership positions in global health are held by women.

We have known for a long time that when women are given equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in economic, political, and public life, everyone in society does better. Female leaders in health “promote access to contraceptives, empowerment programs for girls, women’s rights to family planning and maternity care, safe abortions, and protecting environmental assaults on children’s health.” In addition, women leaders at all levels of governance have shown to be the primary driver toward financing public goods such as health, education, hospitals, clean water, and sanitation. Women’s participation and leadership in economic, political, and public life is so critical to advancing societies that it is even written into one of the sustainable development goals. When women have a voice at all levels of decision-making, we are closer to eliminating the inequities that lead to disparities in health.

More global health organizations are recognizing the need for women leaders and organizations such as Women in Global Health are working toward achieving gender equality in global health leadership. Last year the World Health Organization’s newest Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, appointed eight women to senior leadership, effectively outnumbering the men. In doing so, he took one big leap toward achieving gender equity at the WHO – a goal that was first set in 1997 and that took two decades to realize.

Gender equality is not the only type of diversity we need to strive toward in our global health leadership however. Diversity in global health leadership must also focus on inclusion of people from different ages, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, geography, religion, and other characteristics of personal identity.  As a woman and a first-generation Filipino-American working in global health in the United States, I often find myself at global health and public health conferences and meetings wondering why there are very few leaders that encompass the diversity that I represent on stage (and occasionally even in the audience). The people who make the decisions with the biggest impact in global health must reflect the diversity of the people we serve.  

Learning from, understanding, and seeing the world through another person’s point of view is at the heart of working in global health and a driving reason for why I chose to work in this field. In order to truly reflect the diversity of this field though, the definition of diversity itself needs to go far and beyond the characteristics of one’s personal identity. To fully be inclusive, we must also be open to learning from, understanding, and seeing the world through the perspectives of individuals in the global health workforce with diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and competencies. Our field could benefit from the ideas of diverse individuals in solving some of the world’s most pressing global health problems. These ideas cannot always come out of our own echo chambers. 

Achieving diversity in the global health workforce is everyone’s job. It requires each one of us to recognize and overcome the personal biases (whether they are subconscious or not) which prevent us from hiring and working with more diverse talent. For those of us responsible for making decisions, we must work to create policies at all levels which not only promote but require inclusion. It’s only then that we can achieve true diversity in our workforce and our leadership. It’s only then that we can progress further in achieving health equity.

Stay tuned for part two of my series on Achieving health equity in global health through workforce diversity in which I will discuss different ideas for how we can achieve diversity in the global health workforce.

Action Alert: Call your senators today and urge them to lift the ban on CDC research on gun violence

Sent on behalf of Paul Freeman, IH Section, Action Board


In 2016, the scientific community labeled gun violence a public health crisis and called for a greater public health response including federal research. We desperately need action on gun violence and prevention, but evidence-based decisions can’t be made because of an anti-science ban on research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Call your senators today and urge them to lift the ban on CDC research on gun violence.

Congress is working right now to put the finishing touches on its spending bill, which means that now is the perfect time to ask your senators to lift the ban on gun violence research at the CDC.
Call 855-589-5698 to reach the Capital switchboard and Press 1 to connect to your Senators. Dial in again and Press 2 to connect to your Representative.
Example Script

Hi, my name is ______, and I’m calling from [town/city]. 

I’m calling to express my strong opposition to the budget rider that bans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence. 

With deaths and injuries mounting from gun violence in our schools and communities, we need the federal government to study this problem and offer effective, evidence-based solutions to this crisis.

Putting our public dollars behind this problem is critical – we cannot continue to offer only thoughts and prayers, we must act. 

I urge [Senator X] to remove the anti-science rider that prevents the CDC from conducting research on gun violence from the spending bill. 

Thank you for your time.

IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied


Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Guns kill almost 30,000 people and cause 60,000 injuries each year. As a longtime advocate for violence prevention policies, APHA recognizes a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis is necessary.

The issue of gun violence is complex and deeply rooted in our culture, which is why we must take a public health approach to ensuring our families and communities are safe. We must place a renewed emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research. Ongoing work is needed to ensure firearms do not fall into the wrong hands and to expand access to mental health services to those who need it most.

If you are interested in a sample op-ed, letter to the editor or technical support to help reach your local media, please contact APHA Media Relations.

Visit APHA’s website to learn more about this issue and how you can take action.