Tunisia said that it would take steps to end forced anal examinations of men suspected of being gay or bi.
In Tunisia, homosexuality is a crime punishable with up to three years in jail. And even though the country has been transtioning to democracy since the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown in 2011, gay people are still being arrested and put in jail.
Suspects in these cases can be forced by a judge to undergo an anal examination, a procedure that Amnesty International considers torture. Refusal to undergo the examination is considered proof that someone is gay.
Human Rights Minister Mehdi Ben Gharbia announced this week that the practice of forcible anal examinations will be banned.
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“These exams can no longer be imposed by force, physical or moral, or without the consent of the person concerned,” he said.
Judges will still be allowed to request anal examinations, but refusal will no longer be considered an admission of guilt.
Ben Gharbia said that Tunisia is “committed to protecting the sexual minority from any form of stigmatization, discrimination, and violence,” but that “civil society must first be prepared” before homosexuality is legalized.
Amnesty International said that it “welcomed” Ben Gharbia’s pledge to end the practice, but it “deeply regrets” that Tunisia rejected its 14 other recommendations related to the decriminalization of homosexuality.