Tunisia, Africa

Around forty percent of Tunisia is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and a 1300 km coastline. Both played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the famous Phoenician city of Carthage, then as the Africa Province which became known as the bread basket of the Roman Empire, and then as the Maghreb region of various medieval Islamic states. Tunisia ranks high among Arab and African nations in reports released by The World Economic Forum. The Tunisian Penal Code decrees imprisonment of up to three years for sodomy between consenting adults. The Tunisian government tightly censors the internet and in addition to blocking sites containing political opposition. Tunisia also filters pornography and gay-related content. Yet despite harassment and occasional imprisonment gays have a degree of freedom compared to nearby Libya, Egypt and Sudan. Also see: Islam and Homosexuality


News & Reports:


Police arrest leading gay activist in crackdown on Tunisia rally

Young people join anti-Saied demonstrations amid growing anger at president’s proposed new constitution. Tunis, Tunisia – Police have arrested a leading gay rights campaigner in a violent pushback against young people during a rally against the upcoming referendum on the Tunisian president’s newly proposed constitution. Police violently shoved protesters marching on Friday in a vocal… Read more »

Tunisia quashes LGBT report it recognized gay marriage

Tunisia’s president Kais Saied supports the criminalization of homosexuality. He has termed gay people “deviants” and favors Sharia law. He defends capital punishment. Berlin – The Republic of Tunisia has denied a report from the Tunisian LGBTQ organization Shams that the North African country recognized same-sex marriage, dashing hopes for marriage equality among gays and… Read more »

Tunisia just became the first Arab country to recognise same-sex marriage – but there’s a catch

The Republic of Tunisia has become the first Arab state to recognise a same-sex marriage, a Tunisian LGBT+ rights organisation has announced. According to Association Shams, a marriage settlement between a Frenchman, 31, and a Tunisian man, 26, was legally recognised in Tunisia for the first time on Friday. Homosexuality is illegal in the north… Read more »

After Beating the Odds, Tunisia’s Queer Festival Postponed Due to Coronavirus

The third edition of the Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival was supposed to open this weekend in Tunis. Islamic discourse has not managed to stifle LGBTQ activity in the country, but the coronavirus may have Tunisia has done it again. It has sprung surprises in the past and continues to do so now – from toppling… Read more »

Human Rights Watch call for the end of LGBTI persecution in Tunisia

Rights group calls for changes to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called on the Tunisian authorities to cease their discrimination of LGBTI people. HRW joined with the Civil Coalition for Individual Freedoms in Tunisia in issuing a statement advocating for LGBTI rights in the country. The… Read more »

A Queer Film Festival in Tunisia — Where Being Gay Is Illegal

For four days in March, a sanctuary for queer and trans people sprung up in Tunisia — a country where being gay is illegal. Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival, in its second year, differs significantly from other film festivals: some participants wear badges that read “No Photos;” attendees were invited through a private Facebook page and… Read more »

Tunisia invokes sharia law in bid to shut down LGBT rights group

Judicial harassment and rise in arrests under anti-sodomy law add to climate of tension and fear One of the Arab world’s most visible advocacy groups defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is facing closure following legal threats by the government. Association Shams has been officially operating in Tunisia since 2015,… Read more »

Tunisia: Effort to Shut Down LGBT Group

Move Comes after Court Upheld Group’s Legality (Tunis) – The Tunisian government should halt its attempt to fight a court ruling that gave an LGBT association the right to operate, Human Rights Watch said today. The Tunis-based Shams association has vocally advocated the repeal of Tunisia’s anti-sodomy law and has defended many victims prosecuted on… Read more »

Tunisian government is fighting to shut down an LGBTI rights group

They fight anti-LGBTI laws in the country The Human Rights Watch is calling on the Tunisian government to cease their efforts of shutting down an LGBTI rights group within the country. According to HRW, Tunisia is fighting a court ruling which granted the LGBTI group Shams the right to operate. The government is arguing that… Read more »

Rights groups condemn ‘brutal and humiliating’ tests on gay men in Tunisia

Men suspected of sodomy are being subjected to anal examinations and confiscation of phones by police, with more than 70 gay men jailed last year More than 70 gay men were jailed by Tunisian authorities last year, according to activists, who warn anal tests and phone searches are being used to identify suspects. Mounir Baatour,… Read more »

Tunisia: Privacy Threatened by ‘Homosexuality’ Arrests

Government Using Personal Data, Anal ‘Tests’ for Prosecutions (Tunis) – Tunisian authorities are confiscating and searching the phones of men they suspect of being gay and pressuring them to take anal tests and to confess to homosexual activity, Human Rights Watch said today. Prosecutors then use information collected in this fashion to prosecute them for… Read more »

Tunisian government bans Call Me By Your Name

The Tunisian government has banned the screening and distribution of Oscar-nominated film Call Me By Your Name. A screening of the film, which tells the love story between a 17-year-old and his father’s tutee, was intended to be aired in a cinema in Tunis on Wednesday evening. ? After the Tunisian Ministry of Culture intervened,… Read more »

LGBT radio station launches in Tunisia despite fear of violence

An online LGBT radio station has launched in Tunisia, believed to be the first in the Arab world. The LGBT group Shams set up the radio station which hopes to deal with opposition to LGBT rights in the North African state. ? The Shams Rad station has the slogan “dignity, equality”, and prominent activist will… Read more »

Tunisia agrees to stop forced anal examinations of gay and bi men

Tunisia’s Human Rights Minister has announced that the country will no longer perform anal exams on bisexual and gay men without their consent. The practice, which is considered to be torture by Amnesty International, is to be scrapped by the country, which is used to punish men for homosexual practice. Previously, if an accused man… Read more »

New coalition in Tunisia fights for LGBTQI rights

In Tunisia, 20 LGBTQI and allied activist associations met yesterday to form a new coalition to fight together for the human rights of LGBTQI Tunisians. HuffPost Tunisia reported (as translated here from the original French): In Tunisia, LGBTQI associations join forces to internationalize the struggle for their rights The announcement of the new coalition’s report… Read more »

Teenager sentenced to four months behind bars for being trans

A teenager is currently behind bars for the ‘crime’ of being trans. The 19-year-old woman has been sentenced to four months in prison on the grounds of “harm to good morals”. According to her lawyer, Mounir Baatour, she was arrested in November of last year while celebrating at a Halloween party. The lawyer says she… Read more »

Meeting the needs of MSM in the Middle East and North Africa

Manuel Couffignal is a Senior Advisor: Funding and Influence at the Alliance. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), men who have sex with men (MSM) are a particularly vulnerable and highly stigmatised community, and their burden of HIV infection is significantly higher than the general population. From 2005 to 2015, the Alliance worked… Read more »

Tunisia: Attack targets LGBTQ activist from Shams

Physical attack against LGBTQ rights defender Bouhdid Belhedi Tunisia, 29 April 2016 — On 27 April 2016, a group of three young men brutally assaulted LGBTQ rights defender Bouhdid Belhedi in his hometown of Hammamet, after the group recognized his affiliation to Shams LGBTQ rights association. Bouhdid Belhedi is a defender of the LGBTQ community… Read more »

Tunisia’s brave LGBT community is battling homophobia and anal ‘exams’

Ian Duncan MEP writes about meeting brave LGBT activists from Tunisia – and how the country can overcome its colonial past. The democratic uprisings that we know today as the Arab Spring, began in Tunisia. In short order the protests of the Jasmine Revolution had spread through much of North Africa and the Middle East.… Read more »

Forbidden Love: a student’s struggle for LGBT rights in Tunisia

Tunisia is supposedly the success story of the Arab Spring, but LGBT people still face violent oppression. One Tunisian LGBT activist speaks about his personal and political struggles. Comment “I had to leave my family for I couldn’t face the harassment, the threats any longer.” Ramy Ayari is a 22 year-old computer science student from… Read more »

Six men sent to jail for three years for gay sex acts

The group of men were also banned from returning home for five years. Six young men have been sentenced to three years in prison for gay sex acts, according to an LGBT group in Tunisia. The court also ruled that the men would be banished from their native city for a further five years –… Read more »

Stop to the humiliation and the violation of privacy of the citizns

We, members of civil society and LGBTQI activists, you are sharing our news, legal advice, psychological expertise as well as the release of the National Council of the Medical Association of Tunisia in connection with the case Marwan young man who was arrested and convicted for homosexuality. The signatory organizations: – Tunisian ssociation defense of… Read more »

Tunisia’s lesbian community mobilises against deep-rooted prejudice

Stigmatised and even criminalised by draconian laws for more than a century, the Tunisian lesbian and transgender community is battling back Nawel was in Tunis’s city centre when it happened. “This guy came up to me from nowhere. He was dressed really religiously and, without any warning, he just slapped me across the face –… Read more »

Tunisian LGBT community making strides

The first official LGBT advocacy group and gay pride parade seem promising, but discrimination and imprisonment are still real threats Tunis – There are about seven organisations in Tunisia that fight for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT), but you wouldn’t know it at first glance: only one of these… Read more »

Tunisia recognizes first LGBT association

Progress in struggle for sexual minority rights Tunis – The Tunisian association for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights ‘Shams’ has become the first one of its kind to be officially recognized by the interior ministry as part of a law on associations. The move marks progress in the sensitive issue of sexual minorities… Read more »

Is It Finally Ok To Be Gay In Tunisia?

Tunisia’s gay community is finally out and proud following a week which saw the announcement of government recognition for a leading anti-homophobia group, just days after a ‘gay-pride’ style party marked World Anti-Homophobia Day at a Northern Tunis hotel. Outspoken campaign group, Shams, received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Interior on Monday just hours… Read more »

Assaults in Tunisia: ‘daily violence remains unpunished’

Two members of the activist organization Chouf of lesbian, bisexual and trans Tunisians fighting discrimination against women were the targets of assaults in recent weeks. Chouf issued this statement: In only one week, two friends and members of Chouf were horrifically attacked. One of the members of our office was raped by a man who… Read more »

Tunisia: Swedish man jailed for homosexual acts

A Swedish man has been sentenced to two years behind bars in Tunisia, for committing “homosexual acts”. The Swedish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Swedish citizen is being held in Tunsia, after falling foul of the country’s anti-gay laws. A spokesperson said: “The man, who is in his 50s, was sentenced February 4 to… Read more »

AIDS In Tunisia Is No Myth, Even If It’s Rarely Talked About

Ghalia had dressed up for the occasion. The woman, who is homeless and HIV-positive, was participating in a press conference organized by the Tunisian Organization for the Fight Against STDs and AIDS (ATLMST) on Dec. 2, World AIDS Day. On the stage, professionals were discussing the crisis using acronyms — HIV, MSM (Men who have… Read more »

MSM Advocates from the MENA Region Launch “M-Coalition”: The First Arab Coalition on MSM and HIV

(Melbourne, Australia) – As part of the International Aids Conference, the M-Coalition was officially launched and presented to the International community at large ceremony yesterday at the Clarendon in Melbourne, followed by a series of sessions and interventions across the global village. Hosted by the Arab Foundation of Freedom and Equality (AFE), the M-Coalition is… Read more »

Tunisia political leader found guilty of having gay sex

Mounir Baatour, Liberal Party leader, has been found guilty of sodomy after being jailed for nearly three months, human rights groups criticize the ruling saying anti-gay legislation is used as a moral and political weapon Mounir Baatour, a political party leader and lawyer was found guilty of ‘sodomy’ with a 20 year old man. Baatour… Read more »

Tunisia jails rapper Weld El 15

Tunisian rap artist Weld El 15 lost his appeal on Thursday (June 13th). After three months on the run, the rapper hoped to overturn the conviction handed down for his song “Boulicia Kleb”. But the Ben Arous judge ruled that the rap song critical of the police merited a two-year prison sentence. “The sentence is… Read more »

Tunisian film tops Cannes

Tunis-born director Abdellatif Kechiche topped the 2013 Cannes festival “Palme d’Or” for his controversial film “La Vie d’Adele”. After receiving the award from US filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the French festival’s closing ceremony on Sunday (May 26th), Kechiche dedicated his win to youths of the Tunisian revolution, who “have the aspiration to be free, to… Read more »

French lesbian love story wins top prize at Cannes

An intimate lesbian love story by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the top prize in Cannes on Sunday, and the film festival’s director immediately urged the large crowds protesting against gay marriage in Paris to go and see it. Cannes(Reuters) – “La Vie d’Adele – Chapitre 1 & 2” (Blue is the Warmest Colour) was… Read more »

Two men arrested under Tunisian sodomy law

Two men were arrested on sodomy charges in Tunisia on March 31, the news website Tunisia Live reported. Staff at the Sheraton Tunis Hotel reportedly discovered the men having sex and called security forces, which led to the arrest. The men were not identified in the Tunisia Live article, which added that “attempts to confirm… Read more »

Tunisia seeks path to unity (Non-gay background story)

The killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid has triggered the greatest political crisis in the country since the revolution. Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali on Saturday (February 9th) threatened to quit, warning of chaos unless a new government were formed. Jebali said he would resign within days if key ministries held by fellow Islamists were… Read more »

Tunisia Battles Over Pulpits, and Revolt’s Legacy

Kairouan, Tunisia — On the Friday after Tunisia’s president fell, Mohamed al-Khelif mounted the pulpit of this city’s  historic Grand Mosque to deliver a full-throttle attack on the country’s corrupt culture, to condemn its close ties with the West and to demand that a new constitution implement Shariah, or Islamic law. “They’ve slaughtered Islam!” thundered… Read more »

Maghreb bike tour supports human rights

A bike tour by young Tunisians, Libyans and Egyptians aims to gather signatures for a petition against torture and human rights abuses, Tunisia Live reported on Sunday (July 1st). According to Mosaique FM, the delegation is meeting government and civil society representatives across North Africa. The young activists have already obtained signatures from the Egyptian… Read more »

Tunisia rejects UNHRC recommendation to decriminalise gay sex

Tunisian minister of human rights, transitional justice and spokesman of the Tunisian government, Samir Dilou has rejected a recommendation by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to decriminalize same-sex acts, stating that sexual orientation was a western concept which is incompatible with Islam, Tunisian culture and traditions. In a press conference held in Tunis,… Read more »