Tunisia is prosecuting people suspected of being gay under the country’s anti-gay laws.
Authorities use private information on suspects’ phones to extract confessions, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
What’s more, Tunisia forces suspects to undergo anal exams. HRW denounces these as ‘cruel, degrading, and inhuman’.
Article 230 of Tunisia’s penal code punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison.
‘The Tunisian authorities have no business meddling in people’s private sexual practices, brutalizing and humiliating them under the guise of enforcing discriminatory laws,’ said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at HRW.
HRW urged parliament to quickly abolish Article 230. It should also enact a law to protect people’s privacy.
Furthermore, public prosecutors should abandon sodomy cases and investigate police ill-treatment of LGBTI individuals.
LGBTI activists in Tunisia are very active, despite the threat of punishment.
Earlier this year they held demonstrations protesting the gay sex ban and even hosted the country’s first LGBTI film festival.
But, police shut down the demonstrations for the protesters ‘own security’.
Locked up and pushed out
HRW spoke to six people that had been prosecuted under 230 in the last two years. It reviewed a further five cases in court documents.
Some men spent months in prison. Three fled Tunisia and sought asylum in Europe.
Furthermore, police mistreated those arrested suspected of being gay. Authorities forced them to confess and denied their access to lawyers.
Police arrested a 17-year old three times under the repressive sodomy law, according to HRW. They forced him to undergo an anal examination.
He also spent months in detention and undergoing conversion therapy.
A 32-year-old, that HRW spoke to in June 2018, went to police to file a complain after he was allegedly gang-raped.
Police conducted anal tests on him. Authorities tried to determine if he was ‘used to practicing sodomy’.
‘How is it their business to intrude into my intimate parts and check whether I am “used to sodomy”?’ he asked HRW.