Gay Tunisian flees to Europe to avoid prison for homosexuality

Sentenced to prison for homosexuality three times in the past three years, a gay Tunisian fled today to an undisclosed European country.

From the African Human Rights Media Network reports:

Skander dans l'avion (Photo de
Skander on the plane (Photo courtesy of

Skander (age 22) has just landed today [Friday, Feb. 15] in a European country: he is fleeing from Tunisia’s  “judicial persecution” on the basis of his sexual orientation. Since 2016, he has been sentenced to prison three times for his homosexuality.

The young man was sentenced for the first time in 2016, when he was only 18 years old. He was arrested, for homosexuality, with 5 other people in Kairouan, and sentenced to 3 years in prison, reduced to a month on appeal. This case had made a lot of noise at the time and his family, who got wind of it, rejected him.

Skander then moved to Tunis to try to rebuild his life, but in 2017  he was arrested again and again was prosecuted for homosexuality. He would  serve a four-month sentence.

Again in 2018, Skander ran afoul of Article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Code criminalizing sodomy. This time, he was sentenced to two years in prison. His lawyers have appealed the decision.

The LGBTI rights association Shams decided to help the young man to flee Tunisia. It contacts several foreign embassies. Skander ended up with the visa for the European country where he landed today.

Shams took care of the costs of his trip and referred him to an association in the host country, which will take care of him until he finds a job and becomes independent, far from Tunisia’s injustice and persecution.

Shams declared:

“Article 230 exposes homosexuals to a sort of life sentence. This law goes against the principles of human rights and freedoms. It’s time to repeal it, because  homosexuality is an individual freedom and we have no right to scorn it.”

Shams lamented that many Tunisian homosexuals are forced to flee the country to live freely and with dignity.

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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