Medical watchdog in Tunisia asks to end forced anal probes

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Members of Tunisian "Shams" association for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, including its vice president Ahmed Ben Amor (L), wait before a press conference to support a 22-year-old man accused of engaging in homosexual acts and sentenced to a year in prison following an anal examination on October 3, 2015 in Tunis. The local rights groups ATSM and Shams condemned the judgement, calling anal exams "scandalous" and ask for decriminalising homosexuality by revising Article 230 of the penal code, according to which sodomy between consenting adults is punishable by up to three years in prison. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Homosexual activity is a crime in Tunisia, and as in any crime, evidence is required to prove the guilt. And there is no other 100%-evidence of homosexuality than the result of the anal test. the National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia said it viewed “the practice of a genital or anal examination to verify the nature of the sexual practices of a person without his free and informed consent as an attack on his dignity”. And the doctors should inform the patients that they have a right to say ‘no’ if they don’t want anal or genital probes to be taken. At least seven men accused of sodomy under article 230 of Tunisia’s penal code were subjected to anal exams in the towns of Sousse and Kairouan in 2015, Human Rights Watch report. These people said that during the examination they felt like raped. One 22-year-old student from Kairouan told HRW a policeman forced him to do the test through physical abuse including punching and slapping. HRW hailed the medical watchdog’s condemnation as “an important step toward ending degrading, discriminatory, and unscientific ‘testing’ for evidence of homosexual conduct.” But the organisation said that “because of their unscientific nature, the use of anal exams to test for consensual homosexual conduct should cease altogether, regardless of consent”. Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at HRW, said: “Tunisian doctors have taken a courageous step in opposing the use of these torturous exams. But she emphasised that there was more to be done, saying that to “ensure that forced anal testing in Tunisia ends once and for all, police should stop ordering the exams, and courts should refuse to admit the results into evidence.”

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