Two youths jailed in Tunisia because they ‘looked gay’


Two young men in Tunisia have been sentenced to eight months in prison after they were arrested for simply “looking gay” and tortured.

Achref, a 20-year-old student, and Sabri, 22, were given the jail sentence on Friday in the city of Sousse for having allegedly engaged in “sodomy”.

They were stopped by police in December on suspicion of being gay as they walked down a street and arrested.

The men were then physically abused by officers at the police station and made to sign a statement under duress. Achref was also forced to undergo an anal exam as part of the investigation.

Despite the test being (unsurprisingly) inconclusive and no other evidence being presented, a judge still found the victims guilty on the charges.

Anal exams have no medical or scientific value in determining whether consensual anal sex has taken place and are seen as a form of torture or cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment by human rights groups.

The two men, supported by the local LGBTI rights group Shams, have appealed the sentence. Achref and Sabri will remain on bail until the outcome of the appeal.

On Monday, in a separate case, the Sousse Court of Appeal upheld a two-month jail sentence against two other young men (or possibly transgender women). They were, however, released as they had already served the time in jail.

The individuals were arrested in January in their apartment in Hammam Sousse and found guilty of “indecent assault” because they were in possession of “feminine items”.

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are illegal in the North African country, with a maximum sentence of three years in prison. “Cross-dressing” is not specifically outlawed but transgender people are often prosecuted on charges of indecency.

In March last year, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the abuse of gay men and men perceived to be homosexual by Tunisia’s police.

Victims claimed that police had subjected them to grave human rights abuses, including beatings, forced anal examinations, and routine humiliating treatment.

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