Tunisian LGBT rights group under attack

Logo de l'association Shams
Logo of Shams

Ahmed Zarrouk, secretary general of the Tunisian government, has called for the Tunisian LGBT rights group Shams to be disbanded, even though it just recently won official recognition.

Shams, which was officially registered on May 18, one day after the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, advocates the repeal of Section 230 of the Tunisian penal code, which outlaws homosexual intimacy.

Zarrouk’s main argument in favor of revoking Shams’ registration is that its constitution, which it presented as part of its request for official recognition, made no reference to homosexuality.

“We were surprised when we saw its director talk about this on TV,” Zarrouk said.

He also said that official publication of Shams’ registration had not occurred.

According to Abdellatif Mekki, a member of parliament from the Islamist Ennahda party, the registration of Shams endangers “social peace” and could encourage terrorism.

Ahmed ben Amor (Photo de Getty Images par Fethi Belaid)
Ahmed ben Amor (Photo by Fethi Belaid courtesy of Getty Images)

Ahmad Ben Amor, vice president of Shams, told HuffPost of Tunisia that he was surprised by Zarrouk’s statement. Shams did everything required to obtain legal registration and had not been refused at any point, he said.

As required by law, the leaders of Shams  paid for publication of a notice of the registration in the official journal, he said.

“Although that publication never occurred, that was because of negligence on the part of the state,” he said.

Shams called for a demonstration outside the Tunisian parliament on Dec. 10 to protest the statements of Abdellatif Mekki and Ahmed Zarrouk.

Dec. 10 is both International Human Rights Day and the date for a scheduled court hearing in the appeal of Marwen, a Tunisian student who is out on bail while he appeals a one-year prison sentence for homosexual activity.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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