Hammamet police repeatedly beat and humiliated two transgender passengers on their way to a Halloween celebration, one of Tunisia’s leading gay rights pressure groups has claimed.
According to the statement on LGBTI group Shams Facebook page, a routine police stop turned violent after police became outraged over the female clothing worn by two of the cars passengers, who they suspected of being transgender.
The two individuals were forced from the car and taken to the police station, where they were severely beaten and humiliated by numerous police officers, according to reports.
“The one who remained silent was able to get away and (the one who) protested against the violence inflicted on them was prosecuted, “Shams Vice President Ahmed Ben Amor told HuffPost Tunisia.
The individual currently being prosecuted by Police has been charged with “violating public decency” under Article 226 of the penal code, a controversial law that has been used to punish those in the LGBTI community. It carries a sentence of up to six months and a fine of 1 thousand TND.
However, when contacted by Tunisia Live, Hammamet police denied that any incident took place.
“Nothing about the story is true,” said a senior police official in Hammamet by phone. The official also refused to comment any further on the case, or on allegations of police violence.
This is not the first time Tunisia has drawn criticism for its mistreatment of LGBTI individuals. In December of last year, six students in Kairouan were sentenced to three years in prison for “homosexual activity,” after reportedly being subjected to a forced rectal examination.
Shams, along with numerous international organizations, has long denounced Article 230, which criminalizes homosexuality, as a restriction on individual freedoms and an invasion of citizens’ privacy.
“We continue to violate individuals and their freedoms based on contemptible laws like Article 230,” Ben Amor said, “Or by using vague expressions” such as ,”violating decency” which he claimed is nothing but a “tool of repression.”
Additional reporting by Inel Tarfa.
The article was updated at 15;23 on November 3rd to reflect the comments of Ahmed Ben Amor.