Subscribe to SIAWI content updates by Email
Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Tunisia: Raped, robbed, then arrested for homosexuality

Tunisia: Raped, robbed, then arrested for homosexuality

Thursday 7 February 2019, by siawi3


Tunisia: Raped, robbed, then arrested for homosexuality

January 31, 2019

A young man in Tunisia was conned by two men on Facebook who met him, raped him and robbed him. When he reported the crimes to police, they arrested him on homosexuality charges.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

The city of Sfax is located in the middle of Tunisia’s east coast. (Map courtesy of

Mounir Baatour, president of the Tunisian LGBTI rights group Shams, reported the incident on Facebook. Baatour stated:

See: Location of Tunisia (Map courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

The 22-year-old man was arrested in Sfax when he reported the rape and the theft of his phone and his jacket, taken by two other youths who set a trap for him on Facebook

Although he was raped and robbed violently, the Sfax prosecutor had him undergo an anal test to check for signs of habitual sodomy.

Then he was placed in detention in Sfax prison for three weeks.

He will go on trial for homosexuality on Feb. 4.

An anal test is an abusive medical procedure that its advocates believe, incorrectly, can prove whether a suspect is homosexual.

In 2017, a Tunisian official pledged to the United Nations that Tunisia would stop using forced anal testing, but the country has not actually eliminated anal testing.

Mehdi Ben Gharbia, Tunisia’s minister for relations with constitutional agencies, civil society and human rights, made the pledge in 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, during the presentation of the third U.N. periodic report about human rights in Tunisia.

In 2017, Baatour said the minister’s pledge was a ruse:

“Anal tests are never required, but if a suspect refuses to take one, the judge considers that a sign of guilt. What did we win? Nothing, since harassment, torture and arrests of homosexuals will continue in Tunisia.”



Tunisian officials propose repeal of anti-gay law

June 21, 2018

An official presidential advisory committee in Tunisia has recommended repeal of the country’s anti-gay law.

Beji Caid Essebi, president of Tunisia (Photo courtesy of Reddit)

NBC News reported:

The decriminalization of homosexuality was one of several progressive changes recommended to Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebi by the country’s Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (also known by the acronym COLIBE), a presidential commission comprised of legislators, professors and human rights advocates.

In its final report, the committee also recommended abolishing the death penalty, giving women more rights and dismantling patrilineal citizenship and inheritance.

“Some laws pose an assault on the sanctity of individuals’ privacy, including their sexual relations,” the report, published earlier this month, states. The report specifically cites Article 230 of the country’s penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual activity.

Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a member of Tunisia’s parliament and the president of the COLIBE committee, told NBC News the report’s top recommendation regarding homosexuality “is the outright repeal of Article 230.” The committee did, however, propose a second option that would amend Article 230 by lowering the punishment from three years in prison to a cash fine of 500 dinars (around $200) and no risk of jail time.

“The state and society have nothing to do with the sexual life amongst adults … sexual orientations and choices of individuals are essential to private life,” the COLIBE report states. “Therefore the commission recommends canceling [article 230], since it violates the self-evident private life, and because it has brought criticism to the Republic of Tunisia from international human rights bodies.” …

According to Bouhdid Belhedi, executive director of Tunisian LGBTQ rights group Association Shams, gay Tunisians face not only government discrimination but also “discrimination based on sexual orientation at the social level.”

“Family rejection, violence in public spaces, violence within families, suicide … and issues that affect institutional rights such as access to justice and access to public service,” are also issues impacting the country’s LGBTQ population, said Belhedi, who added that he is pessimistic about Tunisia repealing article 230.

While Tunisia has a long way to go in order to reach equal rights for LGBTQ people and women, its post-revolution government has pursued more aggressive human rights and equality legislation over the past several year. In 2016, Tunisia passed a bill that calls for gender parity in elections. The country already has the highest percentage of women legislators of any Arab parliament.

Like Belhedi, [Neela Ghoshal, acting director of the LGBTQ rights program at Human Rights Watch] said she is not optimistic about the chances for a full repeal of article 230. However, she said the COLIBE report “provides fuel for the dynamic LGBT rights movement in Tunisia, and it will strengthen activists’ message that it is time for change.”

For more information, read the full article, “Tunisian presidential committee recommends decriminalizing homosexuality.”



Protesters vs. petitioners: Dispute over Tunisia’s anti-gay law

August 18, 2018

Tunisia is starkly divided on whether to repeal its anti-gay law. In favor: a presidential commission and human rights organizations. Opposed: thousands of protesting conservative Muslims.

Photo: Protesters carry a banner reading “Quran text before any other text” outside the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Aug. 11. (Hassene Dridi photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

The Associated Press reported on the protest:

BARDO, Tunisia — Thousands of Muslim fundamentalists protested Saturday [Aug. 11] in front of the nation’s parliament to decry proposals in a government report on gender equality that they claim are contrary to Islam.

Men and veiled women marched under a blazing sun from Tunis to Bardo, outside the capital where the parliament is located, to protest the report by the Commission of Individual Liberties and Equality. The report, among other things, calls for legalizing homosexuality — now punishable with three years in prison — and giving the sexes equal inheritance rights. Men now receive double the inheritance of women.

The commission was put in place a year ago by President Beji Caid Essebsi, who is expected to speak about it on Monday [Aug. 13], Women’s Day in Tunisia. It was not immediately clear whether the proposals would eventually be put before parliament.

[On Monday, Essebsi endorsed the proposal to give women equal inheritance rights, but avoided discussion of Tunisia’s anti-LGBT law.]

The protest was organized by the National Coordination for the Defense of the Koran, the Constitution and Equitable Development, and protesters defended a literal reading of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

Tarek Azouz worried that the proposals amounted to a “wish to destroy moral values” by legalizing homosexuality. If acted upon, he said, “we’ll end up with gay marriage.”

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (Photo courtsy of

Dozens of human rights advocates urged Essebsi to follow the commission’s recommendation. This is their petition:

TO: Beji Caid Essebsi, President of the Republic of Tunisia.

Your Excellency,

On 13 August 2017, you appointed the Commission on Individual Freedoms and Equality and tasked it with recommending “reforms linked to individual freedoms and equality, deriving from the provisions of the January 27, 2014 Constitution, international human rights standards and new trends in the fields of liberties and equality.”

In their report, published on 12 June 2018, the Commission clearly recommended repealing penal code article 230, which criminalises homosexual acts, and banning anal tests, a discredited method used forensically on men suspected of being gay.

In 2017, there were at least 71 arrests under article 230 – literally days ago, a young man was sentenced to 4 months in jail for exchanging romantic messages online with another man. Article 230 fuels discrimination and violence – and it’s time to put an end to it.

President Beji Caid Essebsi, we are calling on you to seize this significant opportunity to introduce legislation that would abolish Article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Code and prohibit anal testing.

This legislation is key to meet the requirements of the 27 January 2014 Constitution of Tunisia and to harmonize its legislation with international human rights standards.

Yours Faithfully,

Mounir Baatour, Shams – Pour la dépénalisation de l’homosexualité en Tunisie
Matt Beard, All Out
Anastasiia Danilova, GENDERDOC-M Information Centre, Moldova
John O’Doherty, The Rainbow Project, Ireland
Leonardo Monaco, Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti, Italy
Costa Gavrielides – Adviser for Multiculturalism, Acceptance and Respect for Diversity to the President of Cyprus.
Vladimiras Simonko, Asociacija LGL, Lithuania
Sebastiano Secci, Mario Mieli | Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale, Italy
Edwin Sesange, African Equality foundation, the UK
Frank Mugisha, Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG
Maxwell W. Monboe, Liberia’s Initiative for the Promotion of Rights,Identity Diversity and Equality (LIPRIDE), Liberia
Ifeanyi Orazulike, International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health – ICARH, Nigeria
Françoise Mukuku, Si jeunesse savait, Republique Democratique du Congo
Lana Gobec, Legebitra, Slovenia
Luswata Andrew Brant, IceBreakers Uganda
Hazan Kahrizi, Alwan for LGBT rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Iraq
Amir Mukambetov, LGBT organization Kyrgyz Indigo, Kyrgyzstan
Akudo Oguaghamba – Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative, (WHER) Nigeria
Alexandre Marcel, Comité idaho, France
Steve Letsike, Access Chapter 2, South Africa
Busingye Louis, Human Rights First Rwanda Association, Rwanda
Frederic Hay, ADEHOS, France
Olfa Youssef, universitaire et islamologue, Tunisie
Symmy Larrat, ABGLT, Brazil
Karim Belhadj, cinéaste, Tunisie
Paul Dillane, Kaleidoscope Trust, the UK
Ruth Muganzi, Kuchu Times Media Group, Uganda
Qwin Mbabazi Fiona and Fokeerbux Najeeb Ahmad, African Queer Youth Initiative
Jérémie SAFARI, Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ronald Céspedes, Fundación Diversencia, Bolivia
Olivier King SIBO, MOLI, Burundi
Ivan Hinton-Teoh, just.equal, Australia
Mitch Yusof, SEED, Malaysia
Wei-Cheng Lin, Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ) Hotline Association, Taiwan
Nkali Biggie, FARUG, Uganda
Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM, Thailand
Joey Siosaia Joleen Mataele, Tonga Leiti’s Association, Kingdom of Tonga
Hadi Damien, Beirut Pride, Lebanon
Celestine Peter, lawyer, Tanzania
Muriel Yvon, Collectif Arc en Ciel, Mauritius
Jinan Limam, ADLI, Tunisie