Africa / Middle East / North Africa

Menaced with dissolution, Tunisian LGBT group seeks help

"I am Shams" states this show of support that its allies can display on Facebook. A hearing on whether the government should revoke the LGBT group's registratration is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2016.

“I am Shams” states this graphic, which allies of the LGBT group can display on Facebook. A court hearing on whether the government should revoke the organization’s registration is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2016.

At the eve of a court hearing on its right to exist, Shams, the Tunisian association pushing for the decriminalization of homosexuality, is seeking additional support. In a press release, it asked for support from:

  • Sexual minorities whom Shams “defends tooth and nail.”
  • Those who believe in democracy and human rights.
  • Humanists.
  • Progressive Muslims.
  • Any other associations “with which we would cooperate and forge stronger links in order to strengthen the case for change.
  • All people who believe in a better, more egalitarian Tunisia.

On Dec. 28, a Tunisian court ordered Shams to suspend operations for 30 days following  a complaint by the Tunisian government that accused Shams of violating the law governing non-governmental organizations. Shams’s official registration was granted only last March.

Poster from the Tunisian LGBT rights organization Shams.

This poster from Shams states, “Homosexuality in Tunisia. Keep moving; there’s nothing to see.”

On Jan. 9, Shams announced on Facebook that would continue operations, because it has appealed the suspension.

Yadh Krendel, the president of Shams, wrote in the new press release that:

“The situation of sexual minorities in our young democracy — if it can be called a democracy — is rather delicate. Many young people live in poverty because they had to leave home; some of them were disowned. They are not only persecuted by their family, but also by their environment, the society, and the state, which does not recognize and destroys their future because of the notorious Article 230 of the Criminal Code [which provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for same-sex activity].

“Since the creation of Shams, we had to deal with its media relentlessly against our association might be called “Shams Bashing”. Most media have benefited from the introduction of this important debate to climb their viewership by tackling an association that wants to protect sexual minorities. But in a democracy worthy of the name, these minorities should have the same rights to exist in dignity as other Tunisian citizens.”

The association also:

  • Thanked all those who dared to support it publicly.
  • Promised that “Even if, God forbid, one day Shams is dissolved, the spirit of Shams will always be there.”
  • Stated that “During our inaugural general meeting of Jan. 23, 2015, our association vowed to launch a debate in Tunisian society about the situation of sexual minorities in Tunisia. … The debate has only just begun. The struggle will inevitably be long, but we are optimistic. Our country has always led the way in the Arab world and will always be a role model for others. “

11 thoughts on “Menaced with dissolution, Tunisian LGBT group seeks help

  1. Bonjour. Voici reproduit ci-dessous le message que j’ai adressé à l’ambassadeur de Tunisie en France sur le compte Facebook de l’ambassade aujourd’hui 11 janvier 2016.

    Thank you for all the good work, for your concern, and continued efforts!

    All the best,
    Bruno

    “Monsieur l’ambassadeur, votre excellence, le site d’informations 76Crimes informe régulièrement les internautes sur la situation des minorités en Tunisie. Il semblerait qu’une forme de discrimination soit encouragée par l’Etat tunisien, ce dont je me désole. L’association SHAMS qui défend les droit des personnes homosexuelles fait actuellement état d’un traitement injuste. Toutes les informations dont je dispose vont dans le même sens: le rejet des homosexuels et la violence à leur encontre. Je trouve cela extrêmement choquant.
    Je trouve cela parfaitement inacceptable de la part d’une nation démocratique. En tant qu’étudiant en fin de doctorat, il va de soi que je refuserais tout poste qui me serait proposé dans un pays qui manifeste aussi peu son souci des Droits de l’Homme. Par conséquent, je tenais à vous faire part de ma décision de ne plus communiquer avec les enseignants et les chercheurs résidant en Tunisie, à moins bien-sûr qu’ils oeuvrent activement pour la reconnaissance des Droits de l’Homme, c’est à dire de TOUS les hommes et de toutes les femmes. Je décide de rester à l’écart du sol tunisien, tant d’un point de vue professionnel que personnel et touristique, tant que les personnes homosexuelles ne seront pas traitées conformément aux Droits de l’Homme dans votre pays.
    J’adresse tout mon soutien aux incroyablement courageux représentants de l’association SHAMS qui déplorent, comme moi qu’une mentalité de pays du tiers-monde entache encore une grande partie de la Tunisie. J’espère, votre excellence, que vous saurez entendre ce message, partagé par de nombreux Français pour qui les Droits de l’Homme signifient quelque chose. Une liberté et un respect de chacun avec lesquels on ne transige pas. Je vous remercie de prendre cet important message en considération, et vous adresse, monsieur l’ambassadeur, l’assurance de ma parfaite considération.
    PS Je souhaiterais une réponse de vos services sur les points abordés. Merci.”

    Like

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