Call to action for Tunisia — petitions backing LGBT rights

Shams, the Tunisian LGBT rights group, is seeking support from the international community. Two petitions allow you to provide that support. The first petition below is translated here from the French; it can be signed online on the French or Arabic-language site Avaaz.org. It was originally published in May 2015, but its importance is greater now, because the continued existence of Shams is under threat by conservative forces in Tunisia. As of this article’s publication, that petition had 2,722 signatures. The second petition below, titled “To: Tunisian Authorities,” is sponsored by Allout.org. It has 1,230 signatures.

PETITION NO. 1

Solidarity with LGBT people in Tunisia

Tunisian flag
Tunisian flag

We the undersigned take a stand in support of LGBT Tunisians and against social and political violence.

[For Tunisians: We speak in support of revolutionary values ​​and the new Constitution.]

We denounce campaigns of hate and incitements to murder those activists who are committed to defending the rights of homosexuals. We are outraged by appeals to hatred and killings. We affirm our full solidarity with those activists.

We recall that the Revolution [the “Jasmine Revolution” of 2010-2011] brought the dignity, equality and freedom for which entire generations have fought, for which women and men have paid with their lives and for which they have resisted the greatest intimidations.

Because dignity is not divisible, we believe that no aspect of fundamental rights is more legitimate than any other, or more appropriate for a particular time. The freedom to control one’s own body and a respect for individuals’ physical and moral integrity are an integral part of these rights. Any violation of these rights is a violation of the values of the Revolution.

Any violation of these rights is also a violation of the rights guaranteed by the new Constitution. For individual freedoms, the right to privacy and the principle of non-discrimination are constitutional rights that must be applied without exception. Freedom of association is not negotiable. We demand absolute respect of this right which is, to date, one of the few achievements of the Revolution.

In solidarity with Tunisian citizens advocating for a just cause, we call for legislators and government officials to:

  • Protect people who are threatened by the hate campaign and by appeals for their murder.
  • Reform the penal code so it conforms to the Constitution. Article 230 of the Penal Code, which penalizes homosexual practice, is contrary to the constitutional principles of non-discrimination and the protection of privacy.
  • Guarantee the right of association.

Click here to sign the Avaaz.org petition (which is in French and in Arabic).

PETITION NO. 2

The second petition in support of Shams is from Allout.org.  It is in English and comes with a promise that it and the signatures will be delivered to the court deliberating on the future of Shams:

TO: TUNISIAN AUTHORITIES

Shams is an organization trying to take down Tunisia’s anti-gay law. For months, they’ve been attacked by religious leaders and anti-gay politicians. Now the government has banned them for thirty days to try and shut them down for good.

No one should be persecuted for who they are or who they love. Groups like Shams should be able to fight for love and equality. Reverse the ban against Shams and repeal Tunisia’s anti-gay law.

Attacked, threatened, banned. That’s what’s happening to Shams, a group fighting tooth and nail to take down Tunisia’s anti-gay law. They’ve been facing attacks from religious leaders and anti-gay politicians for months. Now, the government just banned them for 30 days.

It could be the first step in shutting them down for good.

But Shams is fighting back: next week, they’ll appeal the decision in court. They have a good case: the reasons the government gave for the ban aren’t even true. It’s just another way to intimidate and silence anyone fighting for equality. That’s where we come in.

Tunisia’s government is in trouble. The ruling party just split, making them sensitive to public pressure. Thousands of signatures from around the world could sway authorities to reverse the ban. Will you sign now to make sure Shams can keep fighting for equality in Tunisia? Our partners will deliver the signatures directly to the court.

 

 

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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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