Tunisia political leader found guilty of having gay sex

30 Jun

Mounir Baatour, Liberal Party leader, has been found guilty of sodomy after being jailed for nearly three months, human rights groups criticize the ruling saying anti-gay legislation is used as a moral and political weapon
28 JUNE 2013 | BY DAN LITTAUER
Mounir Baatour, Liberal Party leader, has been found guilty of sodomy after being jailed for nearly three months, human rights groups criticize the ruling saying anti-gay legislation is used as a moral and political weapon

 

Mounir Baatour, a political party leader and lawyer was found guilty of ‘sodomy’ with a 20 year old man.

Baatour was sentenced to three months in prison by the court of first instance in Tunis.

The judge found him guilty of violating article 230 of the Tunisian Criminal Code that makes consensual gay sex a criminal offence punishable between six months up to three years imprisonment.

Baatour has been detained since he was arrested on 30 March.

His months in prison will count as time served toward his sentence according to his attorney who made a statement after the judgement (21 June).

According to the lawyer, he should be freed sometime this week.

In April a judge ordered him to undergo an ‘anal probe’ exams to test for ‘proof’ of him being gay, although the ‘result’ of the test was not revealed.

The test, which Human Rights Watch had previously discredited, saying it amount to torture and humiliation, involves a forensic medical doctor examining the anus of a suspect for ‘proof’ that he engaged in anal sex.

The doctor checks for traces of sperm, and takes a picture to ‘study’ the shape of the hole; the larger the width the more ‘likely’ the person is gay, according to this discredited theory.

Baatour, head of the Liberal Party, denies the accusations against him.

His attorney criticized the ruling saying: ‘It is a harsh sentence, because the flagrant element does not exist in his case, as he was not arrested committing sodomy.’

‘All accusations against him lack evidence.’

Pro government websites and Facebook pages were first to spread the news through highly inflammatory and graphic descriptions of Baatour being a ‘receptive’ sodomite, as means to discredit and humiliate his image.

The trial was slammed as ‘a human rights violation’, by Sondos Garbouj, head of Amnesty International’s Tunisia office.

Garbouj also reiterated previous criticism of the law’s application: ‘These morality laws are almost never enforced.

‘Whenever they are used you feel there is a political motivation behind it.’

Recently the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities has called for the repeal of Tunisia’s sodomy law, which the group said is used as a political weapon.

Tarek, a Tunisian gay blogger told Gay Star News: ‘This is another example why LGBT Tunisians live in fear, we never known when and how the law can be applied, and the fact that our sexuality is illegal is enough to make us susceptible to blackmail or worse.’

‘In the case of Baatour, there’s been a resounding silence, not a single politician has made any comment about this man’s life which is now destroyed.

‘This is a pre-revolutionary method, which used “morality” to silence and discredit any dissenting voice.’

Fadi (name protected), editor of Tunisia’s online LGBT magazine, GayDayMag, told Gay Star News: This is terrible news; this is one shocking example of how sexuality is misused by the state to oppress and silence people.

‘It is a shocking and horrendous violation of privacy and liberty.’ 

 

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