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Tunisia court bails students jailed for homosexuality

AFP , Thursday 7 Jan 2016
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A Tunisian appeals court on Thursday freed on bail six students whose three-year prison sentences for homosexuality outraged human rights campaigners, their lawyer said.

The court in the coastal city of Sousse ordered each man to pay bail money of 500 dinars (230 euros, $249) pending a new hearing on February 25, said attorney Fadwa Braham.

Their jail terms, handed down in December by a court in the central city of Kairouan, were the harshest possible under Article 230 of the penal code that criminalises sex between males.

The defendants, aged between 19 and 23, were also banned from Kairouan for five years.

Amnesty International called the December ruling a "shocking example of deep-rooted sanctioned discrimination" while Human Rights Watch denounced it as a "grave case of infringement on people's private lives and physical integrity".

The six were arrested in November after neighbours denounced them, and were made to undergo anal examinations, according to their lawyers.

After the verdict, 13 human rights groups called on Tunisia to decriminalise homosexuality by revising Article 230, and condemned the use of anal exams.

In December, in a separate case, an appeals court reduced the sentence given to a student for homosexual activity from one year to two months.

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