LGBT rights in Tunisia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in Tunisia Tunisia
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal since 1913
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.

Constitutional law[edit]

Article 1 of the Constitution stipulates that Islam is the official religion of Tunisia.

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, although transgender people, along with gay people, are oftentimes accused of violating Article 226 of the national penal code which outlaws "outrages against public decency," [Huffington Post. "Tunisia's New Gay Rights Fight" 2014]

Family law[edit]

Marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman in Tunisia. Same-sex marriage, or the more limited civil unions, are not legally recognized in Tunisia.

Human rights[edit]

In the 1990s, the Tunisia delegates to the United Nations joined with other Islamic nations to oppose efforts by the United Nations to issue a formal declaration in support LGBT rights.

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]

While the government has tolerated the existence of this online magazine, statements from government officials about LGBT rights tend to be negative.

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]

In 2014, a campaign was launched on Facebook, to repeal the criminal laws used against LGBT people in Tunisia. A representative of this campaign expressed an interest to create a registered group in Tunisia to campaign for these legal reforms. [Huffington Post. Tunisia's New Gay Rights Fight. 2014].

Several NGOs in Tunisia, including the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, have asked the government to repeal the criminal law against homosexuality. [Huffington Post. Tunisia's New Gay Rights Fight. 2014].

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]

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

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]