The Tunisian government has recognised an anti-homophobia group, just days after a “gay-pride” style party marked World Anti-Homophobia Day at a Tunis hotel, according to a media report.
Campaign group, Shams, received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Interior just hours after hundreds of revelers danced all night around the rainbow flag to mark World Anti-Homophobia Day.
The top secret party formed part of an all-night protest designed to stamp out Tunisia’s controversial Law 230 which decrees imprisonment of up to three years for private acts of sodomy between consenting adults.
Shams vice president Ahmed Ben Amor told Tunisia Live that the country’s LGBT community is no longer hiding in the shadows.
“We want to let people know that we are here and we are joining the fight against homophobia and for the rights of sexual minorities in Tunisia, he said. “Nobody in Tunisia can say that homosexuality doesn’t exist but as it stands we are forced to come here in top secret. There is absolutely no denying that we exist and we are not going anywhere.”
Speaking about the difficulties faced by gay men in Tunisia he claims that life in the country will remain unsafe for homosexuals until the government puts laws in place to protect them.
“Tunisia is an extremely homophobic society and there are some here who want to terrorize us and make our lives hard. They want to carry violence against us because of our sexuality. In 10 years it might change but we need a law put in place to protect us here.”
Even though Tunisia has long been considered the Arab world’s most liberal country, public opinion in Tunisia (as in all Muslim nations) is firmly anti-homosexual because of Islam’s strict prohibition on the practice.
In 2012, former Ennadha Human Rights minister Samir Dilou famously compared homosexuality to a disease during a TV appearance.
And as recently as February this year, a Swedish tourist was jailed for two years for commmiting homosexual acts.