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New coalition in Tunisia fights for LGBTQI rights

In Tunisia, 20 LGBTQI and allied activist associations met yesterday to form a new coalition to fight together for the human rights of LGBTQI Tunisians.
HuffPost Tunisia reported (as translated here from the original French):

In Tunisia, LGBTQI associations join forces to internationalize the struggle for their rights

The announcement of the new coalition's report on the rights of LGBTQI people in Tunisia.
Announcement of the publication of “State of Affairs,” the new coalition’s report on the rights of LGBTQI people in Tunisia.

“Historical.” That’s the word that LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) associations in Tunisia use to describe their coalition, which has  presented a report on the situation of LGBTQI people in Tunisia. The report will be submitted for the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Tunisia before the U.N. Human Rights Council in May 2017.

In a crowded room, in a moment of unprecedented unity, in front of a crowd of Tunisian and foreign activists and sympathizers, punctuated by enthusiastic applause, the coalition — comprising the NGOs Damj, Mawjoudin, Chouf, Shams and the Kelmty collective, with the support of EuroMed Rights and the Heinrich Boll Foundation and 13 other co-signatory organizations — unveiled the detailed report on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Their goals are to abolish Article 230 of the Criminal Code, which  criminalizes homosexuality, and Articles 226 bis, 228 and 231, which related to indecent assault, soliciting and prostitution, which constitute a Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of homosexuals.

Location of Tunisia (Map courtesy of HRW)
Location of Tunisia (Map courtesy of HRW)

The coalition reviews recent cases of  discrimination against Tunisians for their sexual orientation — the Marwen case, the six young people from Kairouan, and the recent case of transsexuals in Sousse, etc. The gathering then discussed other forms of violence that force LGBTQI citizens to live their lives in the shadows, including lack of access to health care, justice, work and education; hate speech broadcast by media and political figures; anal testing; discriminatory profiling by police officers, etc., — all of them violations of the principles of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

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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 info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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