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Tunisian filmmaker, student jailed on gay-sex charges

A 21-year-old student and a 38-year-old filmmaker were sent to jail today in Tunisia to await their trial on homosexuality charges. They were arrested March 13, according to the Tunisian news website Kapitalis.com.

Me Mounir Baatour
Mounir Baatour, president of the LGBT rights group Shams (“Shams” means “sun.”)

The LGBT rights group Shams, which seeks the repeal of Tunisia’s anti-gay law, stated that the investigating judge in the Tunis court ordered their detention under Article 230 of the penal code, which criminalizes sodomy and provides for a sentence of up to 3 years in prison.

The two defendants were incarcerated in the Mornaguia civil prison, awaiting the results of anal test. Such tests are a widely condemned procedure that anti-gay prosecutors believe can determine whether a suspect is homosexual.

“I condemn this arrest and persecution of homosexuals,” said Mounir Baatour, president of Shams. He called for the “immediate and unconditional release of the two accused.”

Tunisian police reportedly make dozens of such arrests for homosexuality each year. Recently they have been publicized as Shams and many other LGBT-friendly Tunisian organizations seek the repeal of Article 230.

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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