Tunisia should end 'gay proof' anal tests: HRW

Tunisia should end 'gay proof' anal tests: HRW
Human Rights Watch urged Tunisia to end the use of anal testing, used as "proof" to prosecute same-sex relations.
2 min read
Tunisia promised the UN Human Rights Council in 2017 to end anal tests [Getty]

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on Tunisia to release two men jailed for sodomy and to end the "cruel, inhuman and degrading" use of anal testing.

The two men, both aged 26, were jailed in June for homosexual intercourse, but their two-year sentence was later halved on appeal.

"Tunisian authorities should immediately revoke the two men's convictions and release them," the New York-based group said in a statement.

HRW urged parliament to repeal Article 230 of the penal code under which the men were convicted - which punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison - and which they said was based on colonial-era laws in the North African nation.

The two men denied all charges, but their refusal to undergo an anal test was used as "proof" to infer guilt.

The campaign group urged the justice minister to order prosecutors to end the examinations.

Anal tests are used to establish a suspect's sexual behaviour but have "no scientific or evidentiary value" in proving homosexuality, HRW said.

The tests also breach international law and are viewed as "torture" by the UN, the group added.

HRW said Tunisia's health minister should also direct doctors to end such examinations "to respect people's right to physical dignity".

Tunisia promised the UN Human Rights Council in 2017 to end the tests.

However, arrests and trials continue for people's sexual orientation. HRW has encouraged efforts in the Tunisia parliament to scrap the controversial Article 230.

Tunisia is widely seen as a rare democratic success story of the Arab Spring uprisings which toppled dictators in several states.

"Tunisia should send a strong message against arbitrary convictions under archaic sodomy laws and release the two men immediately," HRW said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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