LGBT rights in Tunisia

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LGBT rights in Tunisia Tunisia
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal since 1964
Up to 3 years imprisonment
Gender identity/expression
Military service yes
Family rights
Recognition of
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.

Criminal laws[edit]

Article 230 of the Penal Code of 1913 (largely modified in 1964) decrees imprisonment of up to three years for private acts of sodomy between consenting adults.[1][Note 1]

Cross-dressing is not expressly illegal.

Family law[edit]

There is no legal recognition or social support for same-sex couples.

Human rights[edit]

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.[2] A Facebook page campaigning for LGBT rights in Tunisia also has several thousand "likes".[3]

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".[4] His comments were condemned by many in Tunisian society who posted pro-LGBT pictures on social networking sites.[5]

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".[6] 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."[6]

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.[7]

Male prostitution[edit]

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.[8]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment)
Equal age of consent Emblem-question.svg
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Emblem-question.svg
Right to change legal gender Yes check.svg
Access to IVF for lesbians Emblem-question.svg
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood Emblem-question.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.


External links[edit]