Tunisian gay men jailed for having sex and forced to undergo anal examinations

Human Rights Watch report that seven men have been prosecuted in the country for consensual sex and some have been forced to undergo illegal anal examinations.
Gay relationships are a crime in Tunisia, with article 230 of the penal code punishing “sodomy” with up to three years in prison. HRC interviewed five men who claimed they had been beaten, received forced anal examinations and humiliating treatment at the hands of the Tunisian authorities.
“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,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch. “Tunisia should remove such archaic laws from its books, and the police who mistreated these men should be held accountable.”
HRC claim that six students were arrested in December last year in the city of Kairouan on sodomy charges. The students were allegedly forced to undergo painful and illegal anal examinations, in order to find “proof” of homosexual conduct, and were later sentenced to three years in prison.
Forced anal examinations constitute a form of torture or cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment, prohibited under the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“From the moment of their arrest to the time they were released, these young men described multiple abuses at the hands of the police, including humiliating and demeaning remarks on their alleged homosexuality and beatings at police stations and in prison,” HRC allege.
One of the students, Amar, told the organisation that he was beaten and forced to sign a piece paper consenting to an anal exam: “I was the first to enter to 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.’ The policeman told me to write that I refuse the test, so I wrote it.
“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.’
After signing the piece of paper, the student went on to explain the violation he felt during the inexucasble test: “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.
“He entered one finger inside my anus, with cream on it. He put his finger in and was looking. While putting his finger in, he asked ‘Are you ok now?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not okay.’ It was painful.
Then he put in a tube. It was to see if there was sperm. He pushed the tube far inside. It was about the length of a finger. It felt painful. I felt like I was an animal, because I felt like I didn’t have any respect. I felt like they were violating me. I feel that up to now. It’s very hard for me.”
A fellow student, who heard Amar being beaten, confessed that he couldn’t refuse the test, fearing that he would be beaten as well: “Amar signed a paper saying he refused to do the examination, so the two policemen took him outside and I heard them beating him. The doctor was standing there watching all of this. I heard them slap him. Then they took him inside the examination room.
“They gave me a blank page and the doctor told me to write, ‘I the undersigned, accept and hereby authorize you to conduct an anal examination on me.’ The doctor told me, ‘If you don’t sign, I will put in your report that you had sodomy.’
HRC reviewed the Doctors report from that day, which reported that “there are no signs of violence on the body of the said person. There are signs of habitual passive homosexuality with anal penetration. There are signs indicating that the person has recently, in the last days, had an anal penetration with a solid object such as male penis in erection.”
Another student told the organisation of the horrible treatment he allegedly experienced at the hands of the Tunisian authorities: “They started beating us, lined us up against the wall and shaved our heads… A policeman kicked us one by one, saying, ‘These are your asses that you gave up.’ One of us, when he was being shaved was bleeding from the nose due to stress. They just continued shaving him.
“The prison guards would call us out and take us to an open area and ask us to walk or dance like women, and if we didn’t do it, we would be slapped. I was forced to do it. They slapped me to make me do it. A prison guard took a baton and broke it on my hand because I wouldn’t dance. They would do that three or four times a week.
“When the guards were bored they would take us out with handcuffs and beat us. They even poked batons into our anuses, with our clothes on.”
Human Rights Watch concluded their report by calling on the Tunisian government to “condemn abuse against all detainees, including those arrested on the grounds of their imputed sexual orientation,” and urged investigations into any reports of violence and ill-treatment by the authorities. They also called on The Justice Ministry to immediately ban anal examinations of men accused of sodomy and eliminate article 230.
read more… Human Rights Organisation