Students facing imprisonment for homosexual acts
Tunisia, action created 30.10.2015, petition is active
A 22-year-old Tunisian student known by the nickname "Marwan" was sentenced to prison for his engagement in same-sex sexual relations. Local police forced Marwan to undergo anal examinations for proof of homosexual practices. Marwan appealed and is awaiting a court verdict. He was released on a bail of 500 Dinar (247 USD) on November 5th.
The Court of First Instance in Sousse sentenced on September 22nd a 22-year-old student known as Marwan to one year in prison under Article 230 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual relations. Prior to the sentence, the judicial police had summoned Marwan for his alleged involvement in a murder.
During interrogation, Marwan was asked about his relationship with the murdered man. According to his lawyer, the police forced the young man to admit a homosexual relationship with the murdered. They used physical violence against him and threatened him with rape and murder charges if he did not confess to homosexual relations.
At the request of the court, Marwan was subjected to an anal examination on September 11th. According to the lawyer Marwan was intimidated by the presence of police outside examination room and was not aware that he could object to such a humiliating examination.
Amnesty International believes that there is no scientific basis for such an anal examination. This is a form of torture and ill-treatment of someone being investigated against his will. Amnesty International believes that the arrest of people solely on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or conscious private homosexual relations between adults is a grave violation of human rights. Anyone detained on this basis is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Marwan's case sparked an unprecedented wave of indignation. Former Tunisian Minister of Justice Mohamed Saleh Ben Aissa made a breakthrough when he admitted on September 28th that Article 230 of the Criminal Code violates personal freedom, which is guaranteed by the new Constitution. The Minister also said that Article 230 should be revoked and encouraged the society to work towards that end. He has since been asked to step down from his position.
The criminalization of sexual relations between adults of the same sex is not only discriminatory, but also violative of Tunisian Constitution and is in contradiction with the Tunisian commitment to international human rights stemming from the many international conventions. The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations affirmed that States (including Tunisia) have an obligation to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (articles 2 and 26), to respect the freedom of expression (Article 19), privacy (Article 17) and the right to the freedom of conscience (Article 18).
Amnesty International has found evidence that the criminalization of sexual relations between same sexes in Article 230 of the Criminal Code of Tunisia promotes violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersexuálům (LGBTI) in Tunisia. It creates an environment where these hate crimes are more easily tolerated and where victims of crimes are in constant fear of possible prosecutions.