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Tunisia told to stop ‘anal testing’ of gay men

The practice has been described as torture and a breach of human rights.

LGBT rights group, All Out, has restarted a campaign to stop Tunisia’s so-called “anal testing” of gay men.

The practice was brought to the attention of the international community and 45,000 people across the globe signed a petition, which called for the end of this barbaric form of sexual assault on gay men.

Having successfully convinced the United Nations to recommend that the Tunisian government suspend these tests, the group is now asking whether the government will act upon these international orders.

Tunisia is a country where being gay is illegal. Prior to the UN Committee Against Torture’s recommendations in May 2016, men who were “suspected” of engaging in same-sex relationships were arrested by Police and subjected to a rectal examination by a medical doctor.

These practices have been described as torture and a breach of human rights, with many medical experts condoning these examinations. Not only is it unethical to subject someone to an anal examination without their consent, there is equally no evidence that support the idea that these practices enable doctors to determine someone’s sexual orientation.

The Tunisian Medical Council had spoken out about “anal testing” earlier this year, stating that it did not support such examinations.

That being said, it is alleged that such forms of assault were continuing throughout the country, echoing the country’s attitudes towards the human rights of Tunisian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

In 2014, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association carried out a public survey looking at the views of Tunisian citizens towards the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 62% voted against the legalisation, suggesting that attitudes within the country are still very much against same-sex relationships.

Today, gay men and women can be imprisoned for up to 3 years if they are suspected of being homosexual or if they engage in same-sex sexual activities.

Moreover, despite the fact that there are no explicit laws against transgender people, it is claimed that a public indecency law is being used as a means of arresting those who are transgender.

Living conditions in the North African country remain hostile, given that there are no laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, leaving many open to attack.

All Out are calling for additional pressure to be put on the shoulders of the Tunisian government. The organisation claims that although they have been ordered to stop forced “anal testing”, they are sceptical as to whether or not the government will follow through.

Mounir Baatour, president of Shams, a group that seeks to decriminalize homosexuality in Tunisia is calling for the complete eradication of “anal testing”, given that such testing will still continue as long as people give their consent.

How consent will be gained, however, is also another concern. Given that those arrested by Police may be coerced into consenting to this unnecessary and abusive examination, it is clear that consensual “anal testing” will remain an unethical practice.

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