Tunisia has pledged to the United Nations that it will no longer use forced anal testing in cases of homosexuality. But don’t rejoice too much, warns the online news site Kapitalis.com.
Anal tests are an abusive medical procedure that its advocates believe, incorrectly, can prove whether a suspect is homosexual.
The agreement was made by Mehdi Ben Gharbia, Tunisia’s minister for relations with constitutional agencies, civil society and human rights, on Sept. 21 in Geneva, Switzerland, during the presentation of the third U.N. periodic report about human rights in Tunisia.
Tunisia accepted 189 of the 248 recommendations made to it by U.N. countries, which urged it to improve its record on human rights and to abolish all forms of torture, including abuse of homosexuals.
The Tunisian minister, however, did not accept the recommendation that the country repeal Article 230 of the penal code, which prohibits sodomy, and provides for a prison sentence of up to 3 years in prison. But he did commit to the recommendation on the elimination of the “forced anal test,” considered as proof of guilt of persons suspected of homosexuality and who are imprisoned in accordance with Article 230.
This news, which was met with widespread rejoicing, was not met so enthusiastically by the activists at the Shams organization, which defends the rights of homosexuals. In particular, its president, Mounir Baatour, told Kapitalis that the Minister’s commitment to abandoning the forced anal test is just smoke and mirrors.
“The anal test has never been forced, but if the suspect refuses to comply, the judge retains the presumption of guilt. What have we gained? Nothing, since finally harassment, torture and arrest of homosexuals will continue in Tunisia,” said the president of Shams, accusing the government of playing with words to circumvent the pressure of the UN on this subject.
Ben Gharbia told AFP that authorities could still perform anal tests on men suspected of being gay, but “these exams can no longer be imposed by force, physical or moral, or without the consent of the person concerned.” He declined to cite a date as to when the new policy against the tests would be implemented.
He added that judges could demand that a man undergo the test, “but that person has every right to refuse, without his refusal being held up as proof of homosexuality.”
The minister said Tunisia was “committed to protecting the sexual minority from any form of stigmatization, discrimination and violence,” adding that “civil society must first be prepared” for such change in a Muslim country.
- Kenya petition seeks halt to abusive anal testing (January 2017, 76crimes.com)
- 2 arrests in Tunisia; protests block anal tests (December 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Abusive anal exams get a thumbs-up from Kenyan judge (June 2016, 76crimes.com)
- U.N. panel to Tunisia: Stop forced anal exams
- Forced anti-gay anal tests face legal challenge in Kenya
- Tunisia: Protests against anal exam, sodomy sentence (September 2015)
- Anti-gay Ugandan tactic: Abusive, worthless anal exam (May 2014)
- Outcry against anal exams by police in Lebanon (August 2012)