Victory in Tunisia: Activist group Shams wins in court

Shams celebrated its victory with this graphic, which states, "Long live justice. Shams has won." and "I am Shams." (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
Shams celebrated its victory with this graphic, which states, “Long live justice. Shams has won.” and “I am Shams.” (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Shams, the Tunisian group pushing for the decriminalization of homosexuality, has won its legal challenge against a government order that it suspend operations.

Shams can resume normal activities, thanks to the decision of the court,” the organization announced on Facebook today.

The trial dealt with a legal notification Shams received Jan. 4, ordering the suspension of its activities for 30 days, which was understood to be a first step toward full dissolution of the advocacy group.

Shams (which is Arabic for “sun”) received official recognition less than a year ago, on May 18, 2015, with the aim of defending the rights of homosexuals, bisexuals and trans people.

“The association is now legal, after months of dithering on the part of the authorities,” Sofien Trabelsi, executive director, said at the time. The association, created by Tunisians, was intended to open a nationwide debate about homosexuality with the goal of repealing Article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Code, which provides for up to three years in prison for sodomy.

Shams has been active in the defense of seven Tunisian men arrested and imprisoned for alleged homosexual activity.




Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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