LGBT rights in Tunisia
|LGBT rights in Tunisia|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Illegal since 1964|
|Up to 3 years imprisonment|
|No recognition of same-sex relationships|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Tunisia face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Tunisia, and there is no organised LGBT-rights movement. Most Tunisians are Muslim, and traditional Islamic attitudes and mores look upon homosexuality and cross-dressing as signs of decadence and immorality.
Cross-dressing is not expressly illegal.
There is no legal recognition or social support for same-sex couples.
There is no organised LGBT-rights organisation in Tunisia. In recent years, however, LGBT campaigns have become more visible. In March 2011, Tunisia's first online magazine for the country's LGBT community, Gayday Magazine, was launched. A Facebook page campaigning for LGBT rights in Tunisia also has several thousand "likes".
During a television interview in February 2012, Minister for Human Rights Samir Dilou stated that "freedom of speech has its limits", homosexuality is "perversion", and gay people needed to be "treated medically". His comments were condemned by many in Tunisian society who posted pro-LGBT pictures on social networking sites.
In June 2012, Dilou rejected the recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee for Tunisia to decriminalize same-sex sexual acts, stating that the concept of "sexual orientation is specific to the west" and is overridden by Tunisian law, which "clearly describes Tunisia as an Arab Muslim country". In response, Amanullah De Sondy, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Miami said, "It appears that the minister is stating that Article 230 is about upholding Islam yet it is a French Colonial law that was imposed on Tunisia in 1913 and has nothing to do with Islam or Tunisian Arab traditions."
The U.S. Department of State's 2011 human rights report found that,
Consensual same-sex sexual activity remained illegal [in 2011] under the penal code, which criminalizes it with sentences of up to three years in prison. There was anecdotal evidence that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals faced discrimination, including allegations that police officers sometimes harassed openly gay persons and accused them of being the source of HIV/AIDS. There were no known reports of persons arrested for consensual same-sex sexual activity; however, a local LGBT activist reported an uptick during the year in harassment of and assaults by unknown individuals on persons perceived to be LGBT, including multiple incidents in which individuals were followed to their homes and assaulted by people the victims described as Salafists. Human rights activists also alleged that government forces continued to assault individuals perceived as LGBT.
Male prostitution occurs in some Tunisian tourist resorts. In 2013, Ronny De Smet, a Belgian tourist, was sentenced to three years in prison for attempted homosexual seduction in what he believes was a sting operation by local police to extort money. De Smet was released after three months.
- The official text of Article 230 in French (Jurisite Tunisie):
La sodomie, si elle ne rentre dans aucun des cas prévus aux articles précédents, est punie de l'emprisonnement pendant trois ans.
- Laws: Tunisia, Gay Law Net
- "Gay Tunisians speak out", PinkNews, reported by Farah Samti and Jaber Belkhiria, 26 January 2012
- "Tunisia Gays (official page)", Facebook
- "Tunisian human rights minister: No free speech for gays", PinkNews, reported by Dan Littauer, 6 February 2012
- "Tunisia: LGBT Outrage at Human Rights Minister's Comments", Global Voices, 17 February 2012
- "Tunisia rejects UNHRC recommendation to decriminalise gay sex", PinkNews, reported by Dan Littauer, 6 June 2012
- Tunisie: le parti Ennahda ne pénaliserait pas l'homosexualité s'il dirige le gouvernement « Yagg
- 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tunisia, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, pages 18-19