Tunisia’s government is facing allegations from Human Rights Watch that it has confiscated and searched cellphones of men they suspect of being homosexual, while also ordering them to undergo anal testing.
According to HRW, Tunisian prosecutors are using the information to prosecute men under the country’s harsh sodomy laws.
Consensual same-sex conduct in Tunisia can be punished by up to three years in prison, HRW said.
Tunisian authorities didn’t respond to CNN questions when contacted for comment on the report.
“The Tunisian authorities have no business meddling in people’s private sexual practices, brutalizing and humiliating them under the guise of enforcing discriminatory laws,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Tunisia should abolish its antiquated anti-sodomy laws and respect everyone’s right to privacy.”
HRW says it spoke to six men prosecuted for same-sex conduct in 2017 and 2018. During those interviews, HRW said it found instances where the men alleged they had been mistreated by police, refused access to legal representation and subjected to forced confessions.
Three of those man have since left Tunisia and applied for asylum in European countries, HRW said.
While Tunisia confirmed it would ban anal examinations last September, HRW said the stance was “not credible.”
The rights group said the courts can still order an examination, a move that risks leaving those who refuse the procedure looking guilty.