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Tunisia: Engineer loses job, faces trial for old videos on his phone

A Tunisian man who worked in Dubai for the past five years lost his job and now faces criminal homosexuality charges in a Tunisian court — all because police found old intimate videos of him and his boyfriend in his phone.

Logo de Shams
Logo of Shams

The Tunisian LGBT rights group Shams denounced police for continuing to hound the country’s LGBT community.

Mounir Baatour, president of Shams, said that the Tunisian justice system’s persecution of gay men is contrary to Tunisian law. Under Tunisian justice, people are condemned for their sexual orientation, although Tunisian law only criminalizes sodomy, he said.

Kapitalis.com reported (translated here into English):

Tunisia: An engineer loses his job because of his homosexuality

A Tunisian automotive engineer working for 5 years in Dubai will face homosexuality charges in a court in the Sahel region tomorrow, Wednesday January 16, 2019.).

Because he has been detained in Tunisia pending trial, the 32-year-old man lost his job.

La carte de la Tunisie.
Map of Tunisia

The engineer Khaled (a pseudonym used to preserve his anonymity) told Kapitalis that he was summoned by the police after putting a drone on sale online. During his interrogation, the investigators searched his mobile phone and discovered intimate videos of his relationship with his boyfriend of Syrian origin living in the United Arab Emirates. These videos, which were filmed in 2016 in Dubai, aroused the interest of the agents, who quickly forgot the case of the drone.

“They started watching the videos, insulting and denigrating me. I had become a real circus beast and I was told that I would be brought to justice for homosexuality, “said Khaled, who tried to defend himself, arguing that the videos are old and that they have not even been filmed in Tunisia, and this is personal or even private data … but in vain.

The prosecutor part, thought it her duty to lecture him in the name of religion.

“Homosexuality is a big sin,” she said, adding that homosexual relationships cause illness. Going beyond her role as prosecutor, she advised him to repent and follow the word of God and the laws of Islam.

Khaled said he had acquiesced, in order to avoid being held in police custody.

The engineer was provisionally released and will have to appear tomorrow before the judge. Meanwhile, because he had to remain available for court proceedings, he was unable to return to Dubai. Because of his absence, he was fired by the car company that employed him. …

Khaled had not visited Tunisia for more than two and a half years. He did not think that when returning for a simple vacation, his life and destiny would completely change.

He will be heard tomorrow on the basis of Article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Code, which criminalizes sodomy and exposes the person who practices it to a prison term of up to 3 years in prison. The proceedings will be based on videos dating back nearly 3 years, recorded on his personal phone.

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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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