Two men jailed under Tunisia’s archaic sodomy laws after refusing torturous, debunked anal probes to ‘check their sexuality’
Two men in Tunisia have been handed two-year prison sentences under the country’s archaic sodomy laws banning gay sex.
Human Rights Watch reports that the two men, both aged 26, were arrested on June 3 in Le Kef on suspicion of same-sex sexual conduct.
The pair were charged under the country’s archaic penal code which prohibits “acts of sodomy” between consenting adults – with those deemed to have flouted the law subject to prison sentences of up to three years.
Tunisia jails men under sodomy laws after they refused ‘anal probes’.
According to Tunisian LGBT+ rights group Damj Association, the two men had fallen out over a financial disagreement and one had filed a complaint against the other, only for the police to bully, insult and threaten the men into “confessing” they are gay.
According to Human Rights Watch, police asked the two men to submit to anal exams to determine their sexuality – a practice which has no basis in science or medicine and is condemned internationally as a form of torture and sexual assault. The men refused permission for the exam.
Tunisia had previously assured the UN’s Human Rights Council that it would end the use of forced anal exams as a test for homosexuality, but they still continue to take place on a supposedly voluntary basis.
However, human rights campaigners say that the approach is still “seriously compromised” because courts can infer guilt from a refusal to undergo the exam, which is of no scientific or evidentiary value.
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Human rights campaigners condemn ‘deeply worrying’ prison sentences.
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 criminalisation and prosecution of homosexual conduct signals otherwise.”
Younes called on the country to immediately quash the two men’s conviction, end the use of anal exams, and repeal the archaic sodomy law.
He said: “Tunisia has an opportunity to uphold individual freedoms and everyone’s right to nondiscrimination and bodily integrity by leading the way in decriminalising same-sex conduct.
“It should start by immediately releasing these two young men and halting arrests based on sexual orientation under archaic sodomy laws.”