Tunisia
2 min read

A human rights group has claimed the country of Tunisia is jailing men for having gay sex and forcing them to undergo anal exams.

Homosexual relationships and acts are a criminal offence in the North African country, under article 230 of the penal code which criminalises “sodomy” with up to three years in prison.

Over the course of the last six months, at least, seven men have been convicted of consensual same-sex acts.

Many of the men claim that they have also been beaten, humiliated and forced to undergo anal examinations by authorities.

Forced anal examinations are forbidden under a number of different international human rights treaties, however, a human rights group claims that they have been carried out by Tunisian authorities.

Tunisia

They are widely regarded within the medical industry as being flawed and not being a reliable means of ascertaining whether intercourse has occurred.

Human Rights Watch claims that the apartment of six students was raided by police in December after the men were accused of committing homosexual acts.

A judicial police report allegedly recorded that authorities had received a tip-off that “a number of homosexuals are using a house in Kairouan to do sodomy.”

The men were arrested and say they were beaten and subjected to homophobic remarks, before being taken to a public hospital where they were forced to undergo anal examinations by doctors.

One student said: “I was the first to enter the room where the doctor was. I asked the doctor, ‘What is the test?’ He said, ‘A test like a woman’- meaning a virginity test.

“I said: ‘No, I will not do that test.’ The policeman screamed at me, ‘Respect the doctor!’ I said, ‘I am respecting the doctor, but I refuse the test.

“Then the policeman took me outside to a small garden. He hit me. He slapped me on the face and punched me on the shoulder and said ‘You will do the test’. The doctor was not watching, but he knew I was being beaten. The policeman pushed me back into the room and said to the doctor, ‘He will do the test’.”

Tunisia

He described his distress at the examination performed on him, alleging: “The doctor told me to go on an examination table and said, ‘Stay like you’re praying’ [in the typical Muslim prayer position]. I took my pants off and had to get on the table.

The results of these forced anal examinations were later presented in court as forensic evidence that “sodomy” had occurred. A number of the students were sentenced to three years in prison and then banished from the local city for a further three years.

The sentences were later reduced to one or two months each. One student told the charity: “Physical pain goes away, but the psychological and emotional pain does not go away.”

Human Rights Watch has called on the Tunisian parliament to cease using anal examinations as forensic evidence and to urgently decriminalise homosexuality.

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