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Tunisian government tries to block LBGT organisations once again.

Tunisian government tries to block LBGT organisations once again.

27/02/2019 14:48

The Tunisian government should stop 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 been campaigning to stop Tunisia’s anti-sodomy law and has defended many victims prosecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation. “If organizations that defend human rights and sexual minorities are shut down, Tunisia’s image as an island of freedom and democracy in the region will take a big hit,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch.

Shams registered with the government in May 2015, as a nongovernmental organization working to support sexual and gender minorities. On January 4, 2016, the court in Tunis, responding to a complaint filed by the government’s secretary general that Shams was violating the Law, ordered Shams to suspend its activities for 30 days. On February 23, 2016, the court ruled that Shams was not in breach of the law and lifted the suspension. Three years later in 2019, the Tunisian government appealed, and a hearing is scheduled for March 1.

 
Shams registered with the government in May 2015, as a nongovernmental organization working to support sexual and gender minorities. On January 4, 2016, the court in Tunis, responding to a complaint filed by the government’s secretary general that Shams was violating the Law, ordered Shams to suspend its activities for 30 days. On February 23, 2016, the court ruled that Shams was not in breach of the law and lifted the suspension. Three years later in 2019, the Tunisian government appealed, and a hearing is scheduled for March 1.

 
The government appeal claims that Shams objective is in contrast with “Tunisian society’s Islamic values, which reject homosexuality and prohibit such alien behavior.” It further argues that Tunisian law, which criminalizes homosexual acts, does not allow activities of an association that defends homosexual acts. If the court upholds the petition from the government, it suspends the association for 30 days, after which the court can destroy the organization if it decides it’s against the law. “Tunisia, since the revolution, has been one of the very few Arab countries where LGBT organizations have been able to operate openly,” Guellali said. “It should be welcoming, not handicapping a diverse society.” 

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