Tunisian Students Rounded Up For Alleged Gay Sex, Forced To Undergo Anal Exams

Despite violating the Convention against Torture, the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Tunisia, a signatory member of all three organizations, continues to inflict anal examinations on suspects accused of homosexual sex.

The latest accusations come as news that six students (and a seventh individual) were summarily rounded up by Tunisian authorities in Kairouan, a city in the northeast of the country, arrested, beaten and forced against their wills to undergo the probes.

“Tunisia prosecuted at least seven men for consensual same-sex conduct in two prominent cases over the last six months,” reports Human Rights Watch. “All of the men were convicted under article 230 of the penal code, which criminalizes “sodomy” with up to three years in prison. Human Rights Watch interviewed five men who had been sentenced. All of them said that police had subjected them to grave human rights abuses, including beatings, homophobic taunts, forced anal examinations, and routine humiliating treatment.”

According to those interviewed, the practices followed a similar pattern. The accused were forced to strip down and bend over on an examination table. A doctor would then insert his finger into each of the suspect’s rectums in an attempted to determine if semen could be found.

The tests, according to a report in The Independent, “are widely regarded within the medical industry as being flawed and not being a reliable means of ascertaining whether intercourse has occurred.”

Amna Guellali, a Human Rights Watch researcher who focuses on abuses in the Middle East – specifically Tunisia and Algeria – argued, “The Tunisian government has no business intruding on people’s private sexual behavior and brutalizing and humiliating them under the pretext of enforcing a discriminatory law. Tunisia should remove such archaic laws from its books, and the police who mistreated these men should be held accountable.”

And despite the fact that the mandatory prison sentence for sodomy is three years, the charges against all seven were later reduced to a few months. “Physical pain goes away, but the psychological and emotional pain does not go away,” said one student after his sentence was reduced.