Open letter to Tunisian government: stop torture & arrests of homosexual men
In November 2018, the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch published multiple accounts of men who were arrested, prosecuted and detained for homosexuality. Several men report being subjected to forced anal examinations, having their phones and social media searched. One minor was also forced to undergo conversion therapy while in detention .
Homosexuality is criminalised in Tunisia under article 230 of the Penal Code, while international and Tunisian law guarantee everyone protection against torture, discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as privacy and personal data breaches. Anal tests and conversion therapy have been repeatedly condemned by UN bodies such as OHCHR, the Committee against Torture and the UN Universal Periodic Review.
Men seeking police and judicial assistance for various reasons, including rape, sexual violence and homophobic violence, are re-victimised and charged for homosexual conduct – instead of being given guidance and support.
Members of the LGBTI Intergroup write to the Tunisian governement, asking them to address these human rights violations.
To: Honourable Youssef Chahed, Head of the Government of Tunisia; Honourable Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoudh, Minister for relations with constitutional instances, civil society and human rights; Honourable Mohammed Karim Jamoussi, Minister of Justice; Honourable Hichem Fourati, Minister of Interior
Concerns: arrests of homosexual men
Brussels, 18 January 2019
Honourable Members of the Government of Tunisia,
We were appalled to learn that Tunisia has arrested, prosecuted and detained several men for homosexuality in 2017 and 2018, and subjected them to anal tests and conversion therapy.
All human beings have a right to be protected against torture, discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as privacy and personal data breaches. This is guaranteed by several international law conventions, as well as the Tunisian Constitution and Tunisian national law. The prohibition of consensual same-sex activity in the Tunisian Penal Code goes directly against such human rights principles.
International institutions such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have clearly stated that arrests for consensual same-sex conduct is arbitrary and should be stopped. Such position is mirrored within Tunisia, as shown by the recent proposition of the Commission on Individual Freedoms and Equality to decriminalise homosexuality and the draft legislation for a code on individual freedoms advocating for the abolition of article 230.
Anal tests and conversion therapy, which have no scientific basis and constitute cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, have been repeatedly condemned by UN bodies such as OHCHR, the Committee against Torture and the UN Universal Periodic Review. The use of anal tests in particular is even more concerning that your government formally accepted in September 2017 the recommendation of the UN Universal Period Review to end forced anal exams.
We were also dismayed to hear that in November 2018, two men who had beaten up a young man in Monastir were freed by the first instance tribunal, while the victim was blamed for being gay. All citizens should have access to justice and redress in case of violence and discrimination, regardless of who they are. In that view we are all the more concerned that men seeking police assistance for various reasons, including rape, sexual violence and homophobic violence, are re-victimised and charged for homosexual conduct – instead of being given guidance and support.
In light of the above we urge Tunisian authorities to put a stop to prosecutions on account of homosexuality and the abhorrent anal test and conversion therapy practices. We hope to see Tunisia abolish article 230 of the Penal Code as soon as possible, and to provide equal support and redress to all victims of violence in Tunisia, regardless of who they are.
Daniele Viotti MEP, co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup
Terry Reintke MEP, co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup
Sirpa Pietikainen MEP, vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Sophie in’t Veld MEP, vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
and members of the LGBTI Intergroup:
Jose Inacio Faria MEP
Bart Staes MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Monika Vana MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
David Martin MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP
Alessia Maria Mosca MEP
Gebhardt Evelyne MEP
Judith Sargentini MEP
Soraya Post MEP
Ana Gomes MEP
Petri Sarvamaa MEP
Pina Picierno MEP
Edouard Martin MEP
Martina Anderson MEP
Lynn Boylan MEP
Matt Carty MEP
Liadh Ni Riada MEP
Brando Benifei MEP