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Tunisia: case of two LGBTQ+ people jailed under 'deeply homophobic' law being appealed

Trans woman and gay man convicted under article 230 of country’s penal code in December

Pair were arrested along with six others in a police raid on 11 December 

‘It is appalling and unacceptable that Tunisia’s judiciary continues to interfere in people's private lives’ - Amna Guellali

Ahead of an appeal hearing tomorrow (20 February) in the case of two members of Tunisia’s LGBTQ+ community - a transgender woman and a gay man - convicted of homosexuality and sentenced by a lower court on 21 December to three years and one year in prison respectively, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

“It is appalling and unacceptable that Tunisia’s judiciary continues to interfere in people's private lives by authorising police to conduct arbitrary home raids permitting the prosecution of individuals on allegations related to their sexual orientation and identity. 

“The Nabeul Appeal court should take this opportunity to repair the damage done by past violations - overturning the sentence and acquitting them would be a step in the right direction.

“Article 230 which criminalises same-sex activity is deeply homophobic and must be urgently removed from Tunisia’s penal code. The Government should order an immediate halt of arrests and prosecutions in relation to this provision.”

Eight arrested in police raid

The two are due to have their appeals heard by an appeal court in the coastal town of Nabeul tomorrow. On 21 December, a court in the city of Grombalia sentenced the transgender woman and the gay man to prison terms of a year and three years respectively. On 11 December, police carried out a raid on a residence in the coastal town of Hammamet and arrested eight people suspected of carrying out homosexual acts. According to the lawyer Safouen Jouili, the eight were then subjected to questioning without legal representation. Two of the eight were formally charged under article 230 of Tunisia’s penal code, which criminalises same-sex sexual activity and carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. The others were released due to a lack of evidence.

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