The 1821 Village nightclub in the tourist city of Sousse on the east coast of Tunisia was accused of homophobia after it expelled several LBGTQI people on the night of July 1-2. The night club’s management denied the accusation, but the Tunisian Coalition for the Rights of LGBTQI People demanded that the owners apologize for the incident, and raised the prospect of a boycott.
The coalition issued this communiqué:
On Saturday July 1, 2017, a group of LGBTQI + and non-normative people were exposed to threats, blackmail, verbal abuse and physical abuse, resulting from discriminatory and homophobic behavior, in Sousse, a tourist city in Tunisia. This establishment claims that it offers people the freedom to “swim, lie down, run, shout, kiss, dance, watch the sunrise.”
These people were subsequently violently evicted from 1821 Village by security officers, staff and night club management. To abuse non-normative people because of their way of dancing, loving, expressing and displaying their joy is unjust and constitutes an abuse of power.
Such degrading treatment is imposed on various parts of society that do not fit within traditional norms, not just the LGBTQI + community. These forms of violence derive from the Tunisian legal framework that persecutes the LBGTQI + community, as well as those who do not comply with social conventions.
This legal framework includes, but is not limited to, Articles 226, 226 bis, 230 and 231. The latest incident reflects the lack of secure spaces where people can express themselves freely and display their affection and love.
In light of this recent incident, we, the Coalition for the Rights of LGBTQI + People, firmly condemn systematic and institutional violence and the unjust exclusion of non-normative people in Tunisia. Therefore, the Tunisian Coalition for the Rights of LGBTQI + people calls on:
- The owners, managers, artistic directors and employees of nightclubs and clubs to treat their LGBTQI + clients and non-normative people with the respect they owe to all people, regardless of gender, religion, nationality, class, sexuality or ethnicity, as well as persons with disabilities. It should be remembered that the boycott campaigns carried out by the LGBTQI + community and their allies have led to significant results and that we will continue to fight against oppression, discrimination and marginalization.
- Artists, DJs and musicians, especially those with a large LGBTQI + and non-normative audiences, to show their solidarity and support to their audience, be consistent with their own principles, take a clear position and demonstrate due diligence in the choice of places where they occur.
- Allies and civil society organizations concerned with human rights, to continue to support LGBTQI + rights, to take a stand and condemn all violations, discrimination and violence against LGBTQI +
- The owners, managers, staff and security agents to make a public apology for this incident and the violence that has taken place in their space.
- All LGBTQI + and non-standard people to persist and stay proud of what you are and what you represent. Our existence is neither shameful nor evil, and our love is invincible.
The management of 1821 Village replied:
On Saturday, July 2, 2017, during the concert by DJ Aly Mrabet, a group of people who used to be our guests, who have been our customers for about 3 years, behaved badly. These people, usually respectful, took their places right at the entrance of the village (Resto Beach) and began to act in ways that were, to say the least, inappropriate — lying on the ground in front of all our clients. Some customers complained. Others, shocked and exasperated, even left the scene. Others took pictures of them.
The management asked the group, twice, to stand up and respect the other customers. But they have continued that behavior.
It was then that the director of security, and after several complaints from our other clients, was forced to ask them to leave so that the situation would not degenerate. They left without complaint.
A few minutes later, a lawyer arrived to ask what had happened. We explained the incident to her, and she agreed with us.
If people misinterpreted the actions of the management, we invite them to contact us. We are at their disposal to clarify what we did and why.
In addition, we ask the LGBTQI community and 1821 Village customers to be accurate and honest when they relate the facts of the incident.
Remember that 1821 Village is a place for conviviality. No other incident like this has ever occurred here.
Through this unfortunate opportunity, we want to make it clear that our premises are open to everyone, without any discrimination whatsoever, regardless of sex, color, religion or sexual orientation.
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