Tunisian Minister for Human Rights Samir Dilou
Samir Dilou has been urged to retract homophobic comments. Amnesty International

The Tunisian minister of human rights has angered equality activists after he called homosexuality a sexual perversion and said gays should seek medical treatment.

Samir Dilou told Hannibal TV: "Freedom of expression of homosexuals has limits.

"Sexual perversion is not human rights. These persons should be medically treated.

"They are citizens but they have to respect the red lines that are defined by our culture, religion and heritage."

Homosexuality is punishable in Tunisia with sodomy between consenting adults liable to a three-year jail sentence.

Amnesty International joined the chorus of condemnation expressed on Twitter and Facebook.

"These comments are extremely disappointing, especially coming from the very person who should be ensuring that the human rights of all Tunisians are protected," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty.

"These are not just words. Condoning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is a blank cheque for the most serious human rights violations", she continued

"The minister must retract his statements and speak up in defence of the human rights of all Tunisians."