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Tunisia sentences two men to jail for sodomy

Tunisia sentences two men to jail for sodomy

  • Police wanted to use an anal probe on the men – despite that being a form of torture.
Graffiti in Tunisia calls for the end of Article 230.

A Tunisian court has sentenced two men to two years in prison for ‘sodomy’.

Police arrested the men, both aged 26, on suspicion of having gay sex on 3 June and the court passed sentence on 16 June. However, details of the case have only now come to light.

Police also asked the men to undergo an ‘anal probe test’. This is despite the fact the UN has told Tunisia to stop using the scientifically useless and degrading tests, which are a form of torture.

Rasha Younes, LGBT+ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:

‘Tunisia’s record of actively prosecuting people for consensual same-sex conduct is deeply worrying and a blatant invasion of their private life.

‘While states and international bodies have commended Tunisia for its progress on human rights, the criminalization and prosecution of homosexual conduct signals otherwise.’

Loan dispute led to arrests

The arrests took place in Le Kef, a city 175kms southwest of Tunis, in the northern African country.

Damj Association, a Tunis-based LGBT+ organization, said one of the men had filed a complaint against the other regarding an outstanding loan.

But the authorities seized the opportunity to prosecute the men for homosexuality.

Hassina Darraji, the men’s lawyer, said police demanded that they ‘confess that they are gay’. Officers bullied, insulted and threatened to imprison them.

Moreover, they asked them to undergo an anal probe test but the men refused.

Tunisia promised the UN to scrap the forced tests in 2017.

However, Tunisia told the UN: ‘Medical examinations will be conducted based on the consent of the person and in the presence of a medical expert.’

Human rights organizations say just asking for consent is not good enough. Men still agree to take the test in case trial courts interpret their refusal as a sign of guilt.

The prosecutor of the Kef First Instance Tribunal charged the men with sodomy under article 230 of the penal code.

This punishes gay sex with up to three years in prison. However the two year sentence the two men received is higher than average for similar cases in Tunisia.

Lawyer will appeal case tomorrow

The men are now in a prison in Ben Arous near Tunis. However Darraji is appealing their conviction. The court is due to hear the appeal tomorrow.

Meanwhile Human Rights Watch has demanded Tunisia’s parliament repeals article 230 of the penal code which punishes homosexuality. The organization says the law violates LGBT+ people’s constitutional rights to privacy and equality.

Tunisia indicated it may decriminalize homosexuality in 2018 but the religious conservatives are against the move.

Earlier this year, LGBT+ Tunisians reported a rise in hate after some media published misleading articles suggesting the country had officially recognized a same-sex marriage.