Harsh Conditions Facing LGBT People in Northern Africa

11 Jan, 2019
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Northern Africa Countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, and Western Sahara) are facing harsh conditions including stigma, , forced anal examination, violence and prejudice by state and non-state factors, arbitrary arrests and inhuman/ill treatment, restrictions on freedom of expression and association and state-sponsored repression.


The LGBT community in Northern Africa still faces a number of significant hurdles, including criminalization of same-sex activities (and in some few countries, gender non-conformity), forced anal examination, violence and prejudice by state and non-state factors, arbitrary arrests and inhuman/ill treatment, restrictions on freedom of expression and association, lack of gender recognition for transgender people, community stigma and lack of acceptance by family.


Here’s a story from one young man, who we will refer to as Ali in this article to protect his identity


Ali is one of our members, and he lives in Tunisia, Northern Africa.


Ali was arrested by police officers when he was only 17.


The police came to his house, searched the house and his phone, interrogated him briefly, and finally arrested him. The following day, the police took Ali to a hospital for examination.

“I had no idea of what was to follow next.” Ali states. “One of the police officers informed me that the examination was mandatory. The medical officer instructed me to go to one of the examination bed and to bend…what happened next was totally unexpected…the officer then inserted his fingers on my anus.”

Forced Anal Examination

In simple words, what Ali underwent was a forced anal examination-a horrific and unscientific method of testing for homosexual contact by examining the shape of the anus.


After 48 hours, Ali was released without any charge. He was later on sentenced to two months in a juvenile detention center, where he was assigned a psychiatrist, whose task was to conduct a “conversion therapy” to change him back to normal.

Violation of Privacy

Tunisia, among other Northern Africa countries criminalizes same-sex activities and those found guilty can be sentenced for jail term ranging 3-15 years in prison.
In these countries, there are violations of people’s privacy rights including police officers gaining access to homes without warrants, searching on people’s phones for pictures, chats and calls, conducting forced anal examination, mistreatment in police custody, denial of access to legal counsel, and forced confessions.


This story highlights the harsh conditions that affect the LGBT community in Northern Africa. Human rights watch has also documented a number of similar human rights violations, ranging from extrajudicial killings to mass censorship of pro-LGBT groups and this has led to some of the Northern Africa states including Tunisia in accepting the calls towards ending the ill treatment and forced anal examination. Some countries have also committed themselves in addressing the sexual orientation and gender-based violence.