Tunisia in the International Spotlight for Police Brutality of Homosexuals

tunisian couple
Photo courtesy of Najma Kousri Labidi.

Tunisia is a country making great strides toward democratic progress.

It was December 2010 when the Tunisian Revolution also known as the Jasmine Revolution began. A campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations took place. The events began the day after the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections.

Article 23 of the newly minted 2014 Tunisian Constitution states: prohibition of torture, the state protects human dignity and physical integrity, and prohibits mental and physical torture. 

However penal code article 230, criminalizes sodomy and punishes it with three years in prison.

Forensic examinations, of the anal region, which can be normally done for suspects, is specifically done in instances where homosexuality is the cause of arrest and used as evidence that the suspect participates in homosexual acts and continual anal penetration.

Specifically, one man arrested in September 2015, originally on allegations of murder has been placed under arrest because during his trial the prosecution introduced the results of anal exams as evidence.

In December 2015 six students and human rights activists were jailed for their homosexuality. Not only did they receive the maximum prison term of three years but they were also banned from their home city of Kairouan for five years post release.

The human rights group Amnesty International denounced the ruling as “a shocking example of deep-rooted state sanctioned discrimination”.

It said anal examinations “amount to torture when carried out involuntarily”, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the six.

Tunisia’s constitution, as well as international law, obligates the government to respect the privacy and personal liberty of everyone in Tunisia, and to cease prosecuting people for consensual adult sex, Human Rights Watch said.