Over Swedish protest, Tunisia imposes 2-year sentence

An unidentified Swedish man has been sentenced to two years behind bars in Tunisia for “homosexual acts” despite the protests of Swedish diplomats, Agence France-Presse reported.

Yamina Thabet: "This law is an infringement upon freedom." (Photo courtesy of Tunisia-Live.net)
Yamina Thabet: “This law is an infringement upon freedom.” (Photo courtesy of Tunisia-Live.net)

Under Tunisian law, sodomy is punishable by up to three years in prison.

AFP added:

“(Sweden) highlighted its belief in equal rights regardless of sexual orientation as a fundamental principle of democracy,” said Victoria Bell, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

“The man, who is in his 50s, was sentenced February 4 to two years in prison for homosexual acts,” she added.

Tunisia confirmed the conviction, but has not provided further comment. A report in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet said the man, who has been living in France for years, appealed the sentence.

A Tunisian human rights organization called on authorities to change the law and condemned the man’s prison sentence.

“This law is an infringement upon freedom,” said Yamina Thabet, president of rights group Association for the Support of Minorities (ATSM). “The ATSM is repeating its call for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”

Thabet stated previously that it is “rare that people are arrested for sodomy because it implies a flagrant offense. But for there to be flagrant, the person must be monitored.”

The law is also used to intimidate political opposition, ATSM stated.

That occurred in March 2013, when lawyer Baatour Mounir, head of the small Liberal Party of Tunisia, was arrested after an incident at the Sheraton Tunis Hotel, where hotel staff reportedly found him and another man engaging in sex.

He was sentenced to three months in prison.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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