Man gang-raped, robbed, then arrested for homosexuality in Tunisia

An illustration of a forced anal examination in Tunisia (Courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

Activists are calling for the release of a 22-year-old man in Tunisia. Police arrested him under anti-gay laws after he reported rape and robbery to police last month.

Police detained the man, known as Anas, after he went to a police station in the southern Tunisian town of Sfax in January.

He claims he was gang-raped and robbed by a group of men he met online.

Anas was sent to a hospital where doctors examined his anus to determine if he was gay, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Anas faces court in Sfax on Monday (11 February) on charges of homosexuality.

Article 230 of Tunisia’s penal code punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison.

Anas’ alleged attackers, meanwhile, have reportedly walked free.

Facebook meet

Two men allegedly lured Anas into meeting in Sfax, according to Mambo Online. They reportedly met on Facebook.

The two men, Anas says, raped him and stole his phone and jacket.

But, in a perverse miscarriage of justice, police then arrested Anas. He has been jailed ever since.

Tunisian LGBTI rights group Shams and All Out have launched a petition calling on the country’s Prime Minister, Youssef Chahed, to release Anas.

‘He is constantly harassed and attacked by his fellow inmates and he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ the petition says.

Article 230

Rights advocates have long urged Tunisia to remove Article 230 and protect LGBTI people.

‘The Tunisian authorities have no business meddling in people’s private sexual practices, brutalizing and humiliating them under the guise of enforcing discriminatory laws,’ said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at HRW.

HRW urged parliament to quickly abolish Article 230. It should also enact a law to protect people’s privacy.

Furthermore, public prosecutors should abandon sodomy cases and investigate police ill-treatment of LGBTI individuals.

In June, it looked as though Tunisia may decriminalize gay sex. The country’s equality committee recommended to reform the law.
LGBTI activists in Tunisia are very active, despite the threat of punishment.

Last year, they held demonstrations protesting the gay sex ban and even hosted the country’s first LGBTI film festival.

But, police shut down the demonstrations for the protesters ‘own security’.

Author: Rik Glauert

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