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Tunisia cuts students' sentences over homosexual activity

AFP , Thursday 3 Mar 2016
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A Tunisian appeals court on Thursday reduced the sentence imposed on six students for homosexual activity from three years in jail to one month, their lawyer said.

The court in the coastal city of Sousse ordered them to pay a fine of 400 dinars (180 euros, $195) each but lifted a previous five-year ban on entering the central city of Kairouan, Fadwa Braham said.

Four of the defendants will appeal to the Court of Cassation, she added.

The six students -- aged between 19 and 23 -- had been freed on a bail of 500 dinars (230 euros, $249) each in January.

They were arrested in early December after neighbours denounced them, and were made to undergo anal examinations, according to their lawyers.

A Kairouan court the same month handed them three years each -- the harshest possible jail term under Article 230 of the penal code that criminalises sex between males.

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

During an interview with an Egyptian television channel in October, President Beji Caid Essebsi ruled out a repeal of the law.

"That will not happen," he said. "I reject it."

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

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