Africa / Middle East / North Africa

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.




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